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Tourism, a good deal for Belgium

While the economic situation for Belgium in 2013 has known a period of growth, tourism in this destination seems to follow the same trend since the beginning of 2014. Indeed, during the first five months of the year, the national hotel activity has shown a rise of almost 2% in its Revenue per available room due to outbound and business tourism.

Despite its unstable political context, divided between the different communities of the country, Belgium has been able to achieve an improvement of its economic indicators in 2013. It has therefore known a slight progress of its GDP during this period (+0.2%), with a deficit of less than 3%. Belgian's economy, most especially the tourism industry, has also benefited from the economic recovery, observed in other European countries. In 2013, the destination has recorded more than 14 million tourist arrivals, with more than 7.6 million foreign visitors. These figures show an increase compared to 2012.

This growth which started in 2013, seems to continue over the initial months of 2014, given the performance observed in the national hospitality industry. The reports published by MKG Hospitality show a 1.9% improvement of the revenue per available room (RevPAR) for the period of January to May. The 1.1 point rise in the occupancy rate has allowed the offset of the decline of 0.6% in average daily rate. As a reminder, Belgian overall park was made up of 1,771 hotels with more than 59 700 rooms on January 1st 2014, these figures include 226 chains hotels, representing more than 25 500 rooms.

The improved performance of the hospitality industry has accelerated over the month of May, during which the Revenue per available room has increased by 13.7%. All indicators of the sector are positive over the period, with an overall increase of about 3.1 points of the occupancy rate and 9.2% of the average daily rate. One must say that the organization of the European elections from May 22th to 25th, has been favorable for Brussels' hospitality industry, namely the meeting of 28 heads of European states and their delegations in the capital on the 27th of the same month.The activity was further boosted by the organization of the European Seafood trade show which took place from the 6th of May to the 9th instead of April last year. Hospitality structures in the city have been able to increase their RevPAR by 17.3%, with an increase of 2.1 points in their occupancy rate and 13% in their average daily rate. The city of Liege also stood out over the period, with an increase of 25.1% in the Revenue per available room of its hotel industry, mainly due to the increase of 10.4 points in its occupancy rate. The city also benefited from the European Seafood trade show and held its 24th Jazz Festival -8, 9 and 10 of May- and the Zatopek Urban Tour on May 4th. This comparison is also reinforced with the fact that the city had experienced a decline in its performance in 2013, when it had significantly increased during the past years of crisis.

To support the performance of this sector for the coming years, the Belgian industry had placed bets on its business tourism. This sector is already booming in the city of Brussels which welcomes, each year, nearly 14 million visiting delegates and business tourists in transit, of which 1.7 million generate 3.3 million room nights. Brussels is the city where you can find the five major European institutions, NATO and hundreds of multinational headquarters and international associations. According to the UIA (Union of International Associations), Brussels is ranked first among the European cities for the organization of conferences, a ranking which the Belgium capital has been dominating for several years now.

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