Skip to main content

On May 17, we were invited to speak at the European LGBTQ+ Tourism Summit in Brussels. Meanwhile, outside the convention centre, the city was gearing up to celebrate the biggest rainbow event of the year: the Brussels Pride, the highlight of Belgian Pride Week.

We took this opportunity to analyse Belgium’s perceived level of inclusivity using our LGBTQ+ Index and to measure the real-time impact of Pride on local tourism.

Here’s what we discovered.

Brussels surpasses the overall inclusivity score of Belgium, but Ghent takes the top spot

On May 17, our Marketing Director, Damiano Meola, was invited to participate in the Estates General of European LGBTQ+ Tourism in Brussels.

This important annual event is held in a different EU country each year, bringing together key players in the tourism industry to discuss inclusive tourism, new trends, and the current state of LGBTQ+ tourism in Europe.

It was a great opportunity to showcase our proprietary LGBTQ+ Index, which tracks the level of LGBTQ+ inclusivity in any location based on user-generated online content.

Thanks to our index, we were able to assess the perceived inclusivity of Belgium and its major cities.

  • In 2023, Belgium’s LGBTQ+ Index stood at 67/100. The index shows a positive increase from 2022.
  • Belgium’s capital, Brussels, recorded a very positive score of 77/100 in 2023, ten points higher than the national average.
  • Among Belgian cities, Ghent achieved the highest score with 88/100. It comes as no surprise, given Ghent’s reputation as one of Belgium’s major university cities, accommodating over 60,000 students. This significant, diverse, and youthful population undoubtedly contributes to making it one of the country’s most inclusive cities. Ghent has also consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to openness, as evidenced by recent municipal policies granting public officials a month of leave for gender transition procedures.
brussels pride
brussels pride

(LGBTQ+ Index – Source: D / AI Destinations)

It’s important to note that within each city, the LGBTQ+ Index can vary significantly depending on the specific areas analysed.

In Brussels, for instance, the neighbourhoods of Ixelles, Uccle, and the European District have the highest index levels.
This is not surprising, as Ixelles is known as a student neighbourhood and a cultural and intellectual hub of the city. Similarly, the European District, with its diverse international community, is considered one of the most inclusive areas in the capital.

brussels pride

(LGBTQ+ Index – Source: D / AI Destinations)

The impact of Brussels Pride: 250,000 attendees and nearly 20 million dollars

Belgium’s commitment to inclusivity significantly boosts its appeal as a destination for LGBTQ+ travellers.

In recent years, Belgium has actively fostered a culture of openness towards LGBTQ+ communities.

A notable development in gender inclusivity is that for the past five years, people in Belgium have been able to legally change their gender and name without requiring medical certification.

ILGA’s 2023 Rainbow Europe Map, which shows how well each country protects and promotes the rights of trans and intersex people, gives Belgium a score of 76%. Belgium ranks second only to Malta and shares the same position as Denmark.

The Brussels Pride on May 18, 2024, provides tangible evidence of the significant tourism benefits this inclusive approach can bring.

Participation was exceptionally high, with an estimated 250,000 attendees. This year, the theme was “Safe Everyday Everywhere”, promoting a society where everyone can feel free and safe, every day and everywhere.

Real-time data collected from our destination management platform, D / AI Destinations clearly shows this trend.

Among the expense categories, we see that restaurants and bars (66%) and transportation (22%) account for the bulk of spending. Only 12% is allocated to hotels: this indicates that the majority of participants did not stay overnight in the city but rather travelled to the capital solely to join the parade on May 18th.

Moreover, Brussels is easily accessible from neighbouring countries and is perfectly connected to cities like Paris (1 hour and 30 minutes by train), Amsterdam (2 hours by train), and Cologne (2 hours), just to name a few of the largest cities in the surrounding countries.

(Source: D / AI Destinations – PredictHQ)

The trend of OTA saturation and average rates confirms this analysis: there’s a notable uptick, especially during Pride Week, although it may fall slightly short of expectations.
On the evening of May 18, during the vibrant pride parade, portal rates peaked at 213 euros per night for double occupancy, with a saturation rate reaching 50%.

(OTA rates – Source: D / AI Destinations)

Would you like to see all the details of our presentation at the Estates General in Brussels?