Tourism and recreation | Kustportaal

Tourism and recreation

Europe is the most visited tourist region in the world with the highest number of international visitors. In addition, about half of all tourist nights are spent in coastal areas (Eurostat Regional Yearbook 2016), making coastal and marine tourism (including cruises) the largest maritime sector in Europe in terms of added value and employment (study 2013).

The Belgian coast is also a popular holiday destination. In 2016, residential tourism accounted for around 5.5 million arrivals and 30 million overnight stays. Of these, 49% are occupied by commercial accommodation and 51% by second-stay tourism. The number of day tourists varies between 16 and 19 million per year. The spending of all coastal tourists together amounts to approximately 2.9 billion euros on an annual basis (Westtoer, Trendrapport Kust 2015-2016). In 2016, the highest income was generated by second-stay tourism (1.330 billion euros), followed by those staying in commercial accommodation (797 million euros) and daytime tourism (682 million euros). In addition to coastal tourism, tourism in the hinterland also provides an important number of arrivals and overnight stays. The tourist-recreational regions of Bruges Ommeland and Westhoek together accounted for more than 500,000 arrivals and almost 1.1 million overnight stays in 2015 (Westtoer, Trendrapport Brugse Ommeland 2015-2016; Westtoer, Trendrapport Westhoek 2015-2016).

The main motivation for a coastal visit is to relax (48%) and enjoy the healthy sea air (45%). In terms of activities, strolling on the dike (70%), visiting cafes, tea rooms, terraces (57%) and visiting restaurants (44%) are very popular (Vakantieganger kust, 2016).

More information on  

Marine Spatial Planning
Overnight stays and arrivals
Bathing areas