With an increase of one and a half million domestic trips and a decrease of about nine million trips abroad in 2021 compared to 2019, it is mainly domestic trips that compensate for the decline in tourism in 2021. This is what emerged from new figures of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office.
In 2021, Belgians made about 7 million fewer trips, or a 32% decline compared to 2019. Especially in the first half of 2021, when the tourism sector was also partially closed, the number of trips was half as high (-56%) as two years earlier. In the second half of the year, there was a recovery, although there too a decline of 15% can be seen.
Even more than the number of trips, the amount spent on travel fell: with €7.4 billion in 2021, it is down some 42% from €12.8 billion in 2019.
In terms of accommodation, Belgians chose a hotel or motel much less often. With 30.6% of trips, that share was still below that of 2020 (34.4%) and well below the standard of 40-50% in previous years. Just like in 2020, Belgians went camping more, stayed for free with friends or family or rented a holiday home or apartment.
Travel by plane or by car
The percentage of trips by plane in 2021 was much lower than before the COVID-19 crisis. In the years 2016-2019, it always fluctuated around 30%, while in 2021, with 19.3%, it remained rather on the level of 2020 (17.8%). In contrast, the share of travel by car remained at the high level of 2020 at 71.3%.
France, the Netherlands and Spain are the most popular tourist destinations of Belgians. Together, these countries account on average for more than half (57.9%) of tourist trips abroad for the period 2015-2021.
Travel survey, top 50 foreign tourist destinations (average 2015-2021)
 Excluding business trips, visits to friends and relatives and other trips for personal purposes.