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Bruges trying to put a lid on short-term tourism

Looks like it has joined the ranks of other European destinations which are wanting to reduce the day-tripping mobs.

https://www.brusselstimes.com/all-news/art-culture/58344/too-many-tourists-bruges-will-no-longer-advertises-for-day-trippers-brussels-ghent-tourism-visit-cruise-ship/

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/bruges-belgium-overtourism-cruise-ship-restrictions/index.html

We stayed 4 nights (day tripped to Ghent) and loved it. Busy? Sure but only in concentrated areas, and you can explore a quieter atmosphere of those early in the morning or later in the evening if you've booked a room. During peak hours, walk just a few blocks away from those places to find breathing space. I also don't recall the art museums and some of the other interesting attractions being overrun at all.

Posted by
5618 posts

The hordes discharged by massive cruise ships have to be controlled. Good for Bruges.

Posted by
1453 posts

Bruges was a complete madhouse the day just after Asencion Day a few weeks back. But as soon you leave the beaten path area streets are surprisingly quiet. The Belgian newspapers are reporting this change in tourism policy like indeed reducing the number of cruiseships to a maximum of two per day and hopefully soon reducing the number of chocolate shops too, the latter seems lesser easy as a law need to be changed and for the moment the present government seems having no plans to do that.

Posted by
11486 posts

Bruges was a complete madhouse the day just after Asencion Day a few
weeks back.

LOL. Wil, we landed into town for our stay a couple of years ago ON Ascension Day... which I'm guessing is THE busiest day of the year in Bruges. For all of my prior reading up, I somehow missed that it was sort of a huge event day? Silly me. Still, it was very exciting to be there to see a 700+ year-old, UNESCO-protected procession except, well, we WERE all atwit until they called the thing off last minute for a threatening rainstorm. Rats. We'd even snagged great ringside seats at a bar and were all settled in with a couple of dandy Belgium brews!

Oh well, the beer was good. 🍺

Posted by
1453 posts

Kathy – The temporary grandstands of the procession at the main square were still there and I realised how more crazy the place must have been the day before. I have seen the procession a few decades ago, so not really felt bad about missing it. For you it must have been a disappointment but luckely the beer tasted good, cheers!

Posted by
23380 posts

The Procession of the Holy Blood is always extremely crowded and very very busy.

It is fairly unusual to hear French in Bruges/Brugge. I expect that you heard a lot of French around the Procession. French visitors come from far and wide for it.

Posted by
306 posts

let's be reasonable about this.
First there are ports around the world where cruise ships will discharge thousands of people, swell the streets, return to the boat and all is quiet.
These communities are used to it and they thrive on the income and are willing to tolerate tourists for the income they bring into the community. You can pick a port in Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska or any place else and the scenario is the same.
Regardless of how you arrive at a destination, be it on a cruise ship or trekking by train, bus or bike with a backpack, we must appreciate the diversity in our preferences to travel, respect the local people and appreciate the services they have to offer. Leave a good impression. That is job #1 of a tourist.

Posted by
10237 posts

Bruges was not crowded in mid-September 2018.

Posted by
11486 posts

campbelldp, I don't see anyone being unreasonable? Discontinuing some tourism advertising and putting limitations on daily amount of dockings are crowd control efforts being planned by city authorities and not by anyone here?

Posted by
3790 posts

We did a day trip to Bruges from Ghent in April a few years back. (3rd week or so). Didn't find crowds at all. And the weather was quite nice (after the cool, windy stay we had in NL). I feel for people who can only travel during the most popular months - shoulder season (tho I know even that is getting more crowded) is so much nicer if you can do it.

Posted by
2662 posts

campbelldp, I don't see anyone being unreasonable? Unreasonable, perhaps not, but some point fingers at those who arrive by one mode of transport only rather than recognizing 'hordes' can come by land as well as sea.....campbelldp is just trying to offer an equal opportunity of finger pointing to all hordes....
As one poster wrote elsewhere, a good plague or endemic will do wonders for #. The reality is there is a massive global population and an increase in the middle/upper class that allows for travel. They go to what they hear about.

Posted by
1453 posts

Living a few km from the Belgian border and 40 minutes driving from Bruges I follow the discussions on Belgian tv and what the local authorities want is to keep welcoming the visitors who like spending the night and are interested in art and history doing the image of Bruges as an unique historic place justice. The crowds are caused mostly by daytrippers arriving with the train, buses, cruiseships or the car like I do. It’s hard to say the individual reason why somebody want to visit Bruges but today with the massive attention of internet and social media a substantial part of the crowds seems to see the place more as a themepark in a very nice setting.

Now Bruges reaching the limits the number of visitors can host they want to manage the situation and for that they want to reduce or at least control the number of daytrippers. Doing that with those arriving with the train, bus or car is not so easy but not with limiting the number of cruiseships in the nearby seaport of Zeebrugge. It has little to do with blaming cruiseships but doing the latter is a part of the solution.

Posted by
11486 posts

Doing that with those arriving with the train, bus or car is not so
easy but not with limiting the number of cruiseships in the nearby
seaport of Zeebrugge. It has little to do with blaming cruiseships but
doing the latter is a part of the solution.

Great point, Wil. No, I don't agree with demonizing tourists who choose to travel by ship, although I do have some issues with the cruise industry, including some of the ports. But the hordes DO arrive by land and by sea and it's more difficult to control the land arrivals. As a secondary measure, an overrun city probably could also limit, by permit, the amount of touring coaches allowed in per day? Dunno, just noodling.

It'll be interesting to see how Venice collects the "entry fee" to day trippers (of all sorts) that they're supposedly going to apply?