Dallas, Texas (PRWEB) August 25, 2013
The Belgian travel and tourism sector in terms of volume declined in 2009, and grew at a comparatively slow pace during the overall review period (2008−2012). The country recorded an increase in the volume of domestic and international visitors, and consequently tourist expenditure rose. Despite an annual increase in tourist volumes, Belgium’s share of international tourists is low when compared to its European counterparts such as France and Germany. The government is keen to develop ecotourism and has undertaken initiatives to promote this. The country attracts a large number of medical tourists due to its advanced levels of medical technology, low treatment costs and healthcare infrastructure.
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Given the economic weakness of many of Belgium’s key trading partners and low domestic demand, Timetric expects Belgium’s economy to remain flat in 2013 before recording a positive growth rate of 1.2% in 2014. Private consumption is expected to decrease the overall growth rate, as a weak job market negatively impacts disposable income. However, Timetric expects the economy to grow in the range of 1.6−2% over 2015−2017.
To increase Belgium’s competitiveness in the global marketplace, the government is encouraging foreign investments. According to the UN’s Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in 2011, Belgium was ranked second in terms of its attractiveness to foreign direct investment (FDI).
The government is keen to develop ecotourism and has undertaken initiatives to promote its countryside. For example, Viroinval National Park in south-west Belgium is among the European Tourist Destinations of Excellence (EDEN).
The three most visited provinces in Belgium include West Vlaanderen, Limburg (BE) and Antwerpen. The open-air museum in Bokrijk, the 16th-century Alden Biesen Castle in Bilzen and the Béguinage, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tongeren, are the most popular tourist destinations in the Limburg Province.
Economic instability in European countries has affected inbound tourism. An increase in unemployment and a decrease in mean household income and disposable income have negatively affected consumer confidence.
The volume of outbound leisure tourists increased due to various promotional packages offered by tour operators, and the country’s expanding capacity for international flights. France, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Turkey Switzerland, Austria and Greece are the leading European destinations for outbound travel from Belgium.
Expansion to new destinations is one of the key competitive strategies followed by airline companies in Belgium. Adding new destinations expands networks and increases guest traffic. In contrast, customers also benefit from new service offerings. For example, Jetairfly now provides flights to the Azores and Macedonia.
With an increasing number of tourists looking for budget accommodation due to uncertain economic conditions, hotel groups are now focusing on providing mid-scale and affordable services. Hotel groups in Belgium are pursuing a strategy of growing both their luxury brands as well as economical mid-scale brands. For example, Accor Hotels provides premium services through Sofitel hotels, while mid-scale and budget services are offered through 42 Ibis hotels across Belgium.
Leisure tourists accounted for 70.8% of the total domestic tourist volume in 2012, which presents an opportunity for car rental companies to increase their customer base by targeting leisure tourists. However, business tourists are also expected to become key consumers over the forecast period, due to the increasing level of business tourism in Belgium.
The growth of e-commerce is making it essential for travel agents and tour operators to utilize IT applications to arrange travel bookings. More are expected to do so over the forecast period. Increasing internet penetration rates is the reason for the strong growth of online travel bookings. According to Internet World Stats data from June 2012, there were 8.5 million internet users in Belgium, 81.3% of the total population. According to Statistics Belgium, of all the internet users in Belgium aged 16−74 years old, 45% booked travel packages, 36% booked accommodation, 37% booked event tickets and 26% booked transport tickets in 2010.
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