Belgium's Tourism Industry

Belgium Offers a Range of Tourism Industry Activities

Visitors to Belgium land primarily on Brussels, Bruges, Gent and Antwerp to experience the cultural and gastronomic delights Belgium has to offer. Tourists experience world class chocolatier artisans at work, the original frittes, (or fried chips) double dipped in beef fat, the incredible brewing industry, and the famous Belgian waffles.

Belgium boasts artwork by Van Eyck, Matisse, and classic renaissance works inside fine museums and palaces throughout the capital and outlying cities. Medieval castles adorn the countryside, which is rich with outdoor activities to do such as canoeing the Ardennes, boating, camping, cycling and trekking.

Belgium has Strong International Tourism Links

The majority of tourists arrive to Belgium from the UK, Germany, France and Luxemborg, with only 26% of Belgians taking holidays within the country. Like other parts of Europe, the E27 credit crisis saw tourism receipts falling for 2008 for the first time since records were kept in 1995. The recent improvement in the cost of air travel to Belgium, due to the location of the European parliament, helped Belgium tourism see signs of recovery as early as 2009.

Belgium's Tourism Industry Gains Top Ranking

With Spain, Italy and France being the top tourism destinations in Europe, Belgium moved upwards from 24th place in 1995 to 11th in 2013 - just outside the top ten. Criticised mainly for not having a tourism labour force, the industry has worked hard to train employees for tourism efforts, and embrace the uniquely Belgian quality of serving the community, and not the customers.

Belgian Tourism Efforts Centre Around a Community of Stores and Shops

Entrepreneur Michel Courbet owns Rocking Road, a store he opened two years ago to sell all-American clothes and accessories, in the Rau Haute area of Brussels. He chose the area for the cultural melting pot vibe, where over a hundred different nationalities sell a range of goods and services. In the same square tourists can find an Ethiopian coffee shop, a tattoo shop that hosts art exhibitions, a one hundred year old Belgian flea market, and Restobieres Belgian beer restaurant.

The Grand Place in central Brussels is another example of the melting pot approach to tourism in Belgium. You can sit in an espresso coffee house that prides itself on serving the best coffee in Europe, and walk ten paces left and be bartering with Turkish traders for the cheapest price on leather coats. Artisan sweet makers of fudge and nougat draw visitors, competing with stores featuring Tin Tin, toys, and modern art in no particular order.

Belgium's Tourism Industry has Growth Potential beyond 2013

Belgium tourism receipts total approximately US$11 billion dollars per annum and contribute just over 3% to GDP. Nearly 3.4% of the working population (180,000 people) work in tourism, and with the World Tourism Organisation expecting the tourism industry to grow by 4% across Europe in the next few years, Belgium will be looking to make further gains in this area of employment.

The World Economic Forum ranked Belgium 21st on the Global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index in 2007, mainly affected by a score within the grouping of 114th for price competitiveness. In 2013 Belgium ranks 18th on the scale, with cheaper air travel reducing the cost of package holiday deals in particular over the last six years, and major improvements in tourism infrastructure increasing sub index rankings. Belgium's European ranking is now 18th, putting them inside the top 20 world destinations for tourism economic success.

Belgium's tourism industry has definitely improved the Belgian way. Customer service has never been a high priority, but maintaining cultural communities, high quality produce and artisan industries has always been top of the list. Visitors to Belgium and particularly the capital Brussels are in for a shopping and cultural experience of a lifetime, offering something a little different to the rest of Europe.