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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Belgium. Bruges has enough tourists; “we don’t need more, that’s enough”

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The inhabitants of Bruges, one of the most beautiful Belgian cities, face crowds of tourists during the holidays – writes AFP. “Now we’ve really hit the red line,” says architect Arnout Goegebuer, 55, as he sits in a café and looks out the window at the crowded terrace. “We don’t need any more tourists, that’s enough,” he added in an interview with the agency.

This phrase is echoed by other residents of the city of 119,000, which receives eight million tourists each year, most of them on day trips in the summer.

The inhabitants are not against tourism, which brings money and prestige and provides jobs. But in their opinion it has to be “balanced”.

The problem is the cruise ships moored in the nearby port of Zeebrugge, disembarking passengers who spend only a few hours on land.

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BrugesJolanta Wojcicka / Shutterstock.com

Five-year strategy

In 2019, Bruges implemented a five-year strategy to increase overnight stays and attract visitors more interested in culture and gastronomy than taking a selfie and eating a waffle.

However, the results of the strategy are unknown due to the collapse in tourism in 2020-2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The August 2022 ranking published by Holidu (a platform for searching and booking houses and apartments) placed Venice, Bruges and the Greek island of Rhodes in second place on the list of the most overcrowded European tourist destinations. The first place on this list was taken by Croatian Dubrovnik.

Main photo source: Jolanta Wojcicka / Shutterstock.com

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