Tourists delighted with the welcome they received in Brussels

Brussels plays host to millions of visitors each year. In order to better understand tourists and most effectively meet their needs, and Toerisme Vlaanderen have commissioned a satisfaction survey of 1,200 tourists who have stayed in Brussels and 437 who have visited for the day. Conclusive and positive results have helped, especially in refining its marketing strategy for the coming years.

A year of surveys, in conjunction with Toerisme Vlaanderen and the Flemish art cities (Antwerp, Gand, Bruges, Malines, and Leuven), commissioned a study to gain a better understanding of the behaviour of tourists visiting on vacation.

“It is essential to understand the motivations and travel habits of tourists. It allows us to offer effective tourism policies linked to the trends and expectations of visitors to our region.” underlined Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region.

In Brussels this study was conducted over 12 months by the Kantar TNS survey company with over 1,600 tourists.

Tourists in Brussels

Diversity and a rich architectural heritage

The concepts that tourists associate with Brussels are many and attest to the Region’s shape-shifting identity. Thus the five terms most often cited reveal the richness of its physical heritage (beauty, architecture) and cuisine (chocolate), the multiculturalism of its population (diversity) and its status as the European capital (Europe).

The concepts also vary with nationality. For example, the terms Europe and diversity are particularly associated with Brussels by European visitors. For its part, beer is most often highlighted by Anglo-Saxon tourists (United Kingdom and United States).

The reasons cited by visitors for choosing Brussels as a destination also vary: architectural heritage (35%), the city’s positive reputation (24%), its distinctive products like beer and chocolate (20%), and its history (20%) are specifically noted.

A variety of sources of tourist information

This research also confirms a phenomenon observed for several years now: the decentralisation of tourist information.

Prior to their arrival, 62% of individuals surveyed had planned their trip on line. They had mainly visited lodging sites and booking platforms (Booking, AirBnB, Expedia, etc.), blogs, inspirational sites, and experience sharing sites (Tripadvisor, etc.) and the informational site. In addition, even in this era of communication 2.0, 13% of travellers polled hadusedbrochuresandpromotionalmaterialsand20%hadused atravelguide.

Likewise, once in the area, tourists consult many different sources of information. The most frequent are tourist offices, travel sites, social media, and travel guides.

Hotels, visitors’ first choice

Despite the emergence of new trends, such as the sharing economy, traditional hotels remain the form of lodging most often chosen by tourists (63%). Young people (ages 18-24), Belgians, and the Dutch are nonetheless the most likely to prefer other lodging arrangements.

Nine out of ten travellers booked their lodgings on the internet. While this proportion declines slightly with age, it remains significant with tourists over 65 years of age (84%).

A budget of €140 per person per day

This study once again demonstrates the importance of tourism to the Brussels economy. In fact, each tourist spends an average of €140 per day in Brussels. The largest portion of this budget is dedicated to lodging (€52 per person), meals (€44) and shopping (€20).

Visitors are comfortable and satisfied overall

Visitors present in Brussels seem satisfied with their stay and give it an overall score of 8/10. They are particularly positive with regard to the way they are welcomed by residents, their lodgings, as well as the quality of their meals. 85% of visitors also mention that the city appears to be suitable for travelling with children.

Another indication of the quality of their experience in Brussels: they come back again. Indeed 35% of visitors surveyed had already been to the Belgian capital before.

Finally, two years after the tragic events of 22 March, 88% of visitors feel safe in the capital. Only one person in 100 does not feel safe at all.