Survey on holidays and travels

Belgians did not travel less until mid-March

Travelling by the Belgian population

Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, publishes today the results of the travel survey carried out in 2019 as well as a first provisional estimate of the travels in the 1st quarter 2020.

This provisional estimate shows that the Belgian population seems to have travelled more at the beginning of 2020 than in 2019, until mid-March and the beginning of the lockdown measures due to the Covid-19 crisis. In particular, the winter holidays, which took place in the second half of February, were at least as successful as those of 2019, which took place in the first half of March.

The number of travels made by the Belgian population from 1 January to 14 March 2020 is estimated at just over 3 million, or 14% more than a year earlier over the same period.


Belgians made 23 million trips in 2019

In 2019, the Belgian population made almost 23 million trips. 40 % of these trips lasted one to three nights and 60 % four nights or more.

11 % of shorter trips had a professional purpose, compared to only 4 % for longer trips.

The travel survey

[1] focuses on all trips made, irrespective of the duration, destination and purpose (private or professional). A representative sample of the population is interviewed each quarter about its trips. This survey is harmonised at European level (

The two most popular destinations: France and Belgium

Business travel aside, the Belgian population made 21 million trips for holidays. Belgium is the first destination (42 %) for short stays from one to three nights, followed by France (18 %) and the Netherlands (16 %).

For holidays of four nights or more, France is the preferred destination (23 %), followed by Belgium (13%) and Spain (12%).

While almost all short trips (98 %) are to an EU country, this proportion amounts to 83 % when looking at longer trips.


Vacation departures are most numerous in July (4 million), with August accounting for 2.9 million.


The accommodation varies according to the destination

In 35 % of the cases, holidays of four nights or more take place in a hotel. 29 % take place in a holiday rental and 20 % in an accommodation provided without charge by relatives or friends. However, this varies greatly depending on the country of destination. When Belgians go to France for four nights or more, they prefer the holiday rental (39 %). The same is true when they stay in Belgium (37 %). However, 52 % of holidays in Italy and 49 % of those in Spain are spent in a hotel.


Finally, 61 % of trips for holidays of four nights or more in the European Union are made by car, 30 % by airplane and 9 % via another means of transport.

[1] In 2017, a new methodology was developed in order to improve the quality of the results.


Number of travels by destination, duration and motif, 2019 (in milliers)

Destination Trips of 1 to 3 nights Trips of 4 nights or more
Holidays Professional trip Total Holidays Professional trip Total
Total 8,186,043 969,418 9,155,461 12,996,998 531,403 13,528,401
European Union 8,027,181 896,157 8,923,338 10,723,284 351,423 11,074,707
Belgium 3,473,004 183,943 3,656,947 1,643,837 60,780 1,704,617
France 1,484,673 179,305 1,663,978 3,032,933 83,170 3,116,102
the Netherlands 1,297,575 131,051 1,428,626 661,237 21,970 683,207
Germany 641,094 111,085 752,180 588,480 34,350 622,830
Spain 187,865 22,846 210,711 1,576,487 25,849 1,602,336
Italia 189,575 63,831 253,406 1,019,360 15,870 1,035,230
Other EU 753,395 204,096 957,491 2,198,836 109,434 2,308,270
Other European countries 104,219 41,844 146,062 643,476 27,280 670,756
Africa 36,345 20,619 56,964 755,761 26,145 781,906
North-America 3,609 2,082 5,691 210,970 49,789 260,759
South-America 3,550 . 3,550 187,745 9,038 196,783
Asia 11,139 8,717 19,856 455,214 63,723 518,937
Oceania . . . 20,548 4,005 24,553
Statbel (Direction générale Statistique - Statistics Belgium)

Purpose and brief description

Travelling, whether domestic or international, for business or holiday, is becoming increasingly important in our way of life. This brochure presents the main results of a survey on the travel behaviour of Belgians. Travel habits have been followed since 1997 via a continuous quarterly survey amongst households. You will find here data regarding the duration and the motives of the trip, the destination, the accommodation type, the means of transport used and how the trip has been organised. The traveller's origin is also surveyed.


Inhabitants in Belgium

Data collection method and sample size

Survey technique based on the use of paper questionnaires



Timing of publication

Results available 6 months after the reference period


Number of trips: Trips of the inhabitants with at least one overnight stay. Day trips are also taken into account since 2014.

Duration of the trip: The duration of the trip is measured as the number of nights.

Purpose of the trip: There is only one main purpose for a trip, in the absence of which the trip would not have taken place. The Directive distinguishes two main reasons to travel:(i) business and professional; (ii) holidays, recreation and leisure. Holidays due to 'Visits to friends and relatives' should be included in point (ii).

Traveller: person who travels during the reporting period.