24 August 2004
BRUSSELS – The number of tourists visiting French-speaking Wallonia is down on last year’s numbers.
According to a survey commissioned by the Wallonian Tourist Office (OTW), the month of July did not see as many visitors as it did in 2003.
Bad weather appears to have put people off certain attractions, but hotels and camping sites have also suffered.
The provinces of Namur and Luxembourg have been the worst hit, experiencing a 60 percent drop in visiting tourists.
“In the month of July, we saw a 30 percent fall in visitors,” said Michel Vankeerberghen, director of the Han caves tourist attraction.
But he put the figures into perspective by adding that 2003 had been an exceptional year and this year’s numbers compared well with 2002.
“The weather is a deterrent but it does not explain everything,” he said. “The roadworks on the E411 have also been a contributing factor and there has been a 30 percent fall in French visitors from Champagne-Ardennes and Lorraine.”
Pierre Coenegrachts, joint deputy director of the Wallonian Tourist Office, said hotels were partly responsible for their own fall in custom.
“Today people choose their accommodation depending on what there is to do nearby. You must follow the trends. Some hotels do this and others take more time to understand it.”
But it’s not all bad news.
The tour operators questioned by the OTW are expecting better or identical results for August compared to 2003 figures.
There are also exceptions to the general fall in numbers over July.
The town of Hainaut attracted 40 percent more visitors, an achievement that was down to an active publicity campaign, said the OTW.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news