Melancholy married to joi de vivre

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Вelgians might be quiet and melancholic compared to their neighbours, hiding behind their kind smiles, they must possess a huge joi de vivre.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 02: Belgium fans prior to the international friendly match between England and Belgium at Wembley Stadium on June 2, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

The most beautiful thing about a country when you visit it is completely opposite of what these countries would like to hear you say, namely that they are affordable, small, easy to cover traveling, and everything is short distance. Life in Belgium is certainly not cheap, but luckily this is a country where everything really is short distance (although they would maybe like to be a huge country).

STRING OF PEARLS

Beautiful cities are everywhere – Brussels, Liege, Charleroi, Spa, Ghent, Antwerp, Bruges… If you really want to go all the way, you might take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean, weather permitting, and enjoy in the long sandy beaches and high and low tides. OK, we are aware that, in this day and age of cheap flights and southern tourist destinations, even the Belgians are not too keen on their coastline as they were 50 or 100 years ago, but you have to admit that the idea is appealing.

Bruges Belgium Flanders Europe Brugge gabled guild houses reflected in canal with tour boats. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

Most of Belgium’s tourism revenue is generated on its well-developed coast, or in the Ardennes. We should not forget that the first spa, that became hugely popular, was actually situated in a town called Spa, near Liege. Subseqently, Spa became a generic name for spas and spa tourism in general. Of course, we should not forget the Flemish centres of arts, like the towns we have already mentioned, and the university centres like Leuven or Mechelen. These are frequented by culture-loving tourists, and by people who come to visit their friends and family members studying here.

Yes, there are many business tourists in Belgium too, especially in Brussels. These are also politicians that are here to attend meetings and are using every minute of their spare time for a short trip or to have a bite of a goffre, a type of waffle that is similar to the Serbian version of the classic waffle (bakin kolac), which is considered a Belgian trademark. Of course, there are French fries (always served with mayonnaise) which, as we already know, have nothing to do with France.

NUMBERS, NUMBERS

Tourism in Belgium is actually one of the most profitable Belgian industries. The country’s accessibility, if you are traveling from other parts of Europe, make it a popular tourist destination. Simply put, the country is close to everything in terms of the most lucrative markets like the US, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and France. In 2005, 6.7 million people visited Belgium, but since then, this number has grown exponentially. Most visitors arriving to Belgium on short-term basis come from the following countries, according to the Federal Government of Belgium:

Rank

Country

2014

2015

2016

1

 Netherlands

1,705,537

1,919,413

1,854,486

2

 France

1,264,291

1,285,610

1,202,041

3

 United Kingdom

1,026,003

1,043,613

868,173

4

 Germany

868,250

945,974

865,031

5

 Spain

366,474

360,220

304,598

6

 United States

366,061

388,423

299,907

7

 Italy

299,864

294,945

224,762

8

 China

169,075

209,045

147,654

9

 Luxembourg

100,002

114,899

110,953

10

  Switzerland

108,031

118,796

91,308

11

 Poland

87,698

94,937

90,914

12

 Sweden

69,994

68,021

65,117

13

 Denmark

60,330

61,927

63,415

14

 Russia

97,183

72,630

60,386

15

 Ireland

N/A

N/A

57,266

16

 Turkey

49,475

61,538

55,410

17

 Portugal

N/A

N/A

54,221

18

 Canada

59,289

61,357

50,521

19

 Japan

111,939

96,444

50,253

20

 Romania

N/A

N/A

45,077

Total foreign

7,887,426

8,354,753

7,481,422

EPILOGUE

Build it once, have it forever! Take care of cities. Even if you lose all the industry and agriculture, you will still remain a tourist superpower like Belgium – the country of many happy returns.

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