Warm weather saw record turnouts for events across Flanders

Summary

The Easter holiday period was booming for the tourist sector, with 1.2 million people heading to the coast and outdoor events seeing record attendance

Daytripping

The warm and sunny weather during the second week of the school holiday assured success for tourist destinations, Easter egg hunts and other events around Flanders. The coast was especially busy, with Westtoer reporting 1.2 million Easter holiday daytrippers by Monday.

Temperatures were in the mid- to upper-20s for several days, with Monday seeing 25°C. The long Easter weekend alone accounted for 375,000 visitors to the sea, with hotels averaging 85 to 90% occupancy rates.

It wasn’t all good news, however, as restaurants and other catering services are facing a shortage of personnel and had trouble keeping up with demand. There are already nearly 2,000 vacancies in the catering and hospitality sectors at the coast, and businesses weren’t ready for the number of visitors they saw last week and over the weekend.

“In cases like this, the hospitality sector has to go looking for staff at the last minute,” said Mathias De Caluwe of hospitality association Horeca Vlaanderen. “In these temperatures, that’s not easy. Students would rather study during this holiday period or enjoy the sun themselves.”

Cooler period coming

In Brussels, meanwhile, the Hopla! circus arts festival attracted 13,000 visitors, and thousands visited the Hallerbos in Flemish Brabant, where the purple carpet of bluebells is in full bloom until 1 May. Mechelen’s annual Longest Veggie Table saw record numbers last Thursday, with nearly 2,000 showing up for a vegetarian picnic in the city’s Grote Markt.

According to data from travel insurers, more Belgians are using the Easter holidays as an opportunity to get away, whether within the country or to a neighbouring one. “In recent years we have seen that Belgians tend to take shorter holidays more frequently,” said Didier Ravese of Allianz Assistance.

The warm weather is holding out until tomorrow (Wednesday), when afternoon rain will lead us into a cooler period. Thursday and Friday will be cloudy with a few showers and about 15°C, while the weekend will see 12°C with dark clouds and thunderstorms.

Photo courtesy De Kust