Patrick Bontinck, CEO of Visit Brussels, recently spoke about Brussels’ record year for tourism.
The city had 9.4 million hotel stays by tourists in 2019 compared with 8.8 million nights the previous year. For 2020, the target is 10 million.
“Ten years ago, we had a very low occupancy rate at weekends – less than 50%. Brussels was seen as a business destination, and only a quarter of our visitors came for leisure. Now, we are approaching 50-50. Walking through the Christmas markets, you can see how attractive the city has become. Mini-Europe, the Atomium - they have all broken attendance records this year,” said Bontinck.
He also spoke of the city’s international character as a big attraction, as well as its success in the creative arts. “The New York Times spoke of Brussels as ‘the new Berlin’ and the Washington Post wrote last month that we had become the epicentre of contemporary art. That’s the strength of Brussels. It has created its own identity, it has become the most cosmopolitan city in Europe and the second in the world after Dubai,” he said.