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 the most popular holiday destination in the country. In 2017, residential tourism accounted for around 5.4 million arrivals and 27 million overnight stays. 57.2% of these overnight stays are occupied by second-stat tourism or long-term campings, the remaining 42.8% took place in commercial accommodation. The number of day tourists varies between 16 and 19 million per year. The spending of all coastal tourists together amounted to nearly3 billion euros in 2017. (Westtoer, Trendrapport Kust 2016-2017). The highest incomes were generated by second-stay tourism (1.239 billion euros), followed by those staying in commercial accommodation (768.2 million euros) and daytime tourism (693.7 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 over 1.1 million overnight stays in 2015 (Westtoer, Trendrapport Brugse Ommeland 2016-2017; Westtoer, Trendrapport Westhoek 2016-2017).

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 in commerciële logies kust, 2017). Moreover, the Belgian coast is popular with water sports enthusiasts. Our coast exhibits no fewer than 12 yacht clubs and 26 water sport clubs, leading to a total of over 19,000 members.

More information see theme text ‘Tourism and recreation’ of the Compendium for Coast and Sea and the publication CoastalINsight2019 (Dutch).  


Marine Spatial Planning
Overnight stays and arrivals
Bathing areas