Annual reports

Study and analyses
Mont des Arts - Kunstberg
© Visit Brussels - Jean-Paul Remy - 2017

The annual report of the Brussels tourism observatory is a publication resulting from the collection and processing of data provided by, among others, the FPS Economy, MKG Hospitality, TourMIS and tourism service providers such as Brussels museums and attractions. It is established according to an efficient methodology recognised by all Brussels tourism stakeholders.

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Annual report of the Brussels tourism observatory 2022

Beginning of 2022, the coronavirus pandemic had entered its Omicron variant wave. Although the Omicron variant caused fewer serious health issues, it remained highly contagious. To combat its spread, numerous measures were still in place, and travel abroad was, at best, uncertain. A gradual return to normality finally took place in the second quarter of 2022.  

Despite the doubts that arose at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (at the end of February), the figures show that tourism recovered almost immediately after health measures were lifted, once again demonstrating the resilience of the sector.  However, there have been some significant changes compared with the pre-crisis period.  

While business tourism has long been the spearhead of tourism in Brussels, the recovery this time seems to have been driven by leisure tourism. The growing popularity of virtual meetings partly explains this phenomenon: business travellers are now focusing mainly on large events, while their smaller meetings are taking place online. 

As far as the figures are concerned, although the impact of the first-quarter results was significant, the gaps with 2019, the last pre-covid year, have narrowed considerably. 

Annual report of the Brussels tourism observatory 2021

2021 saw the covid-19 health crisis continue to impact the tourism sector, both in Brussels and abroad.

The lifting of the sanitary measures put in place in 2020 took place gradually (resumption of outdoor cultural activities in April, partial reopening of the Horecaand indoor activities in May, removal of the social bubble in June). Vaccination, supported by the Covid Safe Ticket, allowed the resumption of indoor cultural activities, but also the holding of large events.

Unfortunately, the Omicron wave slowed down the sector again from mid-November until the second quarter of 2022.

Annual report of the Brussels tourism observatory 2020

After a record year in 2019 the Brussels tourism sector, like many other sectors of the economy, couldn't have imagined the challenge it was about to face with the COVID 19 pandemic.
While January still saw healthy growth, by February the first warning signs were emerging. In mid-March in order to combat the spread of the virus, Belgian authorities imposed drastic measures on the country to stop the spread, which hit the tourism, culture and catering sectors.
On top of the consequences of the measures applied in Belgium, Brussels had to deal with the absence of international travellers who had accounted for almost 78 of overnight stays in recognised accommodation in 2019.

Turning the crisis into an opportunity for Brussels tourism

In 2020, the global tourism sector was hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, and Brussels was no exception. Two major projects dominated 2020 at an organisational reshuffle into four pillars to strengthen transversality, and the activation of a recovery plan to face of the health crisis. The future holds many challenges and Brussels’ tourism sector is preparing for them, with one unchanged moto: We make you love Brussels.

Annual report 2019

2019 was once again a record year for Brussels’ tourism sector. The number of overnight stays booked continued to grow, whether they were for business or leisure tourism.

While Brussels reinforced its first European place in the UIA ranking (the number of association congresses has increased by 31%, allowing Brussels to represent 7.6% of the UIA 2019 total), the number of visitors to museums and attractions passed the 5 million mark.

As shown again by the organisation of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, Brussels has confirmed its place on the list of unmissable destinations.

Annual report 2018

Tourism in Brussels had a record year in 2018. The various actors in the sector, such as accommodation, museums and tourist attractions, have seen their attendances increase. The year was characterised in particular by a marked increase in the number of leisure overnight stays, which now represent 49% of Brussels overnight stays.

Annual report 2017

As the figures for November and December 2016 showed, the tourism industry in Brussels continued to improve throughout 2017.

While keeping in mind the situation in 2016, the double-digit increases in figures were very positive. All the more so when, as this annual report was completed, we see that the first figures for 2018 are, once again, very encouraging.

Annual report 2016

The Lockdown from November 2015 and the negative communication that followed still had some influence when the attacks from the 22nd of March happened. The whole tourism industry suffered from those terrible events.

Leisure tourism underwent a major impact, causing a significant drop in tourism figures until the end of summer. The situation started to go back to normal from October 2016, notably because of business tourism. The recovery goes on since.

Annual report 2015

Despite the important impact of the Lockdown that happened after the attacks in Paris, Brussels tourism continued to increase in 2015 and reached 6.78 million overnight stays (+2.7 % vs 2014).

Annual report 2014

The progress registered in 2013 continued in 2014 , with a 5.4% increase in overnight stays to over 6.6 million by 3.4 million visitors. Length of stay also increased, to 1.93 nights per visitor.

Annual report 2013

After a stable 2012, tourism in Brussels resumed positive growth in 2013. Night stays were up by 4.7%, reaching nearly 6.3 million for 3.3 million visitors.

Annual report 2012

The 2012 annual report of the Tourism Observatory in Brussels, drawn up in partnership by and between VISITBRUSSELS, Wallonie-Bruxelles Tourisme and Flanders Tourism.

This document is the result of the gathering and processing of data supplied by, among others, the FPS Economy, the French Community Commission (COCOF), MKG Hospitality, Tourmis and tourism service providers such as museums and attractions; it is drawn up in accordance with an efficient methodology recognised by all the Brussels tourism sectors.

Annual report 2011

Since  2011, the Brussels Tourism Observatory has been incorporated into the Research & Development department of VISITBRUSSELS in the context of a partnership with Wallonia-Brussels Tourism and Toerisme Vlaanderen.

This service, devoted to statistics on and studies of tourism in Brussels, collects and processes data from, among others, the FPS Economy, the Cocof, MKG Hospitality, TourMIS, and tourist service providers like the various museums and attractions - efficient partnerships and a methodology acknowledged by all the Brussels tourist sectors.

Annual report 2010

In 2010, tourism in Brussels grew again and hotels have seen increasing occupancies : 6.9% more overnights and an occupancy rate of 69.3% (up 2.3 points). Leisure overnights increased by 7.5% and professional overnights by 6.3%. Overnights in youth hostels grew with 5.5% and in B&B with 3%.

The Meeting industry keeps growing : with an increase of 23% of meetings with more than 300 participants according to UIA (Union of International Associations) ranking, Brussels manages to keep its 1st position in Europe.