The Belgian government announced a raft of measures last week to encourage domestic tourism as the country emerges from three months of lockdown.

Some of those measures include an extension of parental leave and a €300 (US$337) tax-deductible voucher that workers can receive from their employers to use in restaurants, museums, theatres and other hard-hit sectors. A free 10-journey rail pass was supposed to be introduced in July as part of the package but that particular scheme has been rejected by the country's national rail operator amid health and safety concerns, according to The Brussels Times

Belgium has been hit hard by the coronavirus but as infection rates have decreased in recent weeks, the government is continuing to review lockdown measures and gradually ease restrictions. 

Phase three of the country's roadmap out of lockdown got underway on 8 June with most businesses resuming operations, including cafes, restaurants and bars, with the requirement that tables must be kept 1.5 metres apart. Tourist boats have returned to the canals of Bruges, hotels have begun to accept bookings and, as of 15 June, restrictions have been lifted for travel within the European Union, and from the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The Belfry Tower (aka Belfort) and traditional narrow streets in Bruges
Tourists are returning to Bruges ©Olena Z/Shutterstock

Belgium's package to encourage domestic tourism is similar to incentives being introduced in other countries. Japan, for example, is considering partly funding domestic trips through its Go To Travel campaign and New Zealand has proposed a four-day work week to give residents additional holiday time. Switzerland has also proposed providing residents with vouchers worth 200CHF (US$210) to be spent in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

This article was first published on 15 June and updated on 17 June, 2020.

You might also like:

A stroll in Marolles: what to do in Brussels' hippest area
New Zealand mulls a four-day work week to boost domestic tourism
10 of the world's most amazing train journeys

This article was first published Jun 15, 2020 and updated Jun 17, 2020.

Explore related stories

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 02: Participants take part in the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on March 02, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade began in 1978 as a march to commemorate the  1969 Stonewall Riots in New York and has been held every year since to promote awareness of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. (Photo by Roni Bintang/Getty Images)


Pride 2024: 12 most LGBTIQ+-friendly cities in the world

May 21, 2024 • 11 min read