Flanders unites to become top destination for cycle tourists


The region’s five provinces have been working together for the past three years to entice more local and international tourists to enjoy a cycling holiday in Flanders

An important step

A three-year campaign promoting cycle holidays in Flanders has led to more interest from foreign tour operators, new collaborations between holiday specialists and a significant increase in the availability of cycle holidays online.

Fietsvakanties in Vlaanderen (Cycle Holidays in Flanders) is a joint project by the five Flemish provinces. It was launched in 2016 to increase interest in cycle tourism in the region among Belgian and international holidaymakers, and to harness the success of Flanders’ extensive network of cycle paths, the fietsknooppuntennetwerk.

“We’ve laid a significant foundation,” says project coordinator Sjantal Sillius. “Our partners now have all the instruments they need and an expanded network on which they can build and help make Flanders a top destination for multi-day cycle holidays. Some trends have played a part, such as the focus on sustainability and the success of the e-bike. We are looking forward to welcoming more cycle tourists to Flanders in the coming years.”

Raising interest abroad

The provinces encouraged commercial holiday specialists and support service providers to share their expertise and provided them with tools to help them create and promote full-experience multi-day cycling packages.

A workgroup created a series of instruments including a digital platform containing information and inspiration, a B2B brochure in Dutch and English and a guide to creating a cycling holiday package. Workshops and networking opportunities allowed the partners to share experiences and knowledge and a survey among providers of support services helped to build a better and more customer-friendly service. Tourism agency Visit Flanders also raised interest among international tour operators through its overseas offices.

Some trends have played a part, such as the focus on sustainability and the success of the e-bike

- Sjantal Sillius

The most important achievement is the new dynamic surrounding cycle tourism in Flanders, organisers say. More local and international tour operators are showing an interest and trade partners are arranging new deals with the region. While confirmed numbers of bookings are not yet available, more than two-thirds of the Flemish accommodation providers and cycle hire services questioned report that they have seen an increase in customers over the past three years.

Highlights of cycling in Flanders include the Cycling Through Water and Cycling Through the Trees attractions in Limburg, and themed routes such as those dedicated to breweries, the First World War and the Flemish Masters.

Photo: Cycling in the Flemish Brabant countryside
© David Samyn/Fietsvakanties in Vlaanderen

Flemish cycling

Flemish cyclists have played a dominant role in the history of European bicycle racing. With the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), the region also has a classic cycle race.
Flandriens - The legendary pioneers of the Flemish cycling tradition are called “Flandriens”. They include Roger De Vlaeminck, Eddy Planckaert, Johan Museeuw and Walter Godefroot.
Eddy Merckx - Having won 525 races in his career, Brusselaar Eddy Merckx, nicknamed “the Cannibal”, is considered one of the greatest cyclists of all time.
Trophy - The annual Flandrien Trophy honours the best Belgian cyclist of the past season. Professional cyclists choose and vote for the nominees.

number of times Merckx won the Tour de France

1 913

first Tour of Flanders

1 969

Merckx becomes first Belgian to win the Tour de France in 30 years