The data are a result of a poll of 4,750 people, roughly one-third day trippers and the rest longer-stay tourists, between April and December 2011. The survey was carried out on a commission from Toerisme Vlaanderen, the Art City Action Plan and the five cities.
The share of each city in the total number of longer-stay tourists is: Brussels 40%, Bruges 28%, Antwerp 17%, Ghent 10%, Leuven 3% and Mechelen 2%. Tourists stay longest in Brussels: an average of 2.6 nights, compared to 2.3 in Antwerp, which is second, and 1.8 in Ghent, the lowest. Many tourists visit more than one of the art cities on the same holiday.
The total amount spent by longer-term holidaymakers in 2011 is estimated at €699 million: €345m for Brussels, €159m for Bruges, €116m for Antwerp, €53m for Ghent and €13m each for Leuven and Mechelen.
Brussels also leads in the number of day trips made by visitors, with 5.07 million. Not surprisingly, by far the largest number of day trippers comes from Belgium (66%) followed by the Netherlands (16.6%). In the case of day trippers, nearly two-thirds had been to one of the art cities before in the last five years. More than 90% were adults travelling without children.
Contrary to popular belief, only a small percentage (6%) were travelling in an organised group. Day trippers to the art cities brought in an estimated €1.2 billion in 2011. Antwerp leads the field this time, with €392 million, ahead of Brussels with €385 million.