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Good Move traffic plan: City centre visitor numbers suggest no negative impact

14:02 23/11/2022

Having welcomed over 1.25 million visitors in October alone, the centre of Brussels seems little affected by the new mobility plan Good Move, which critics claimed would lower tourism by making it more difficult to traverse the city in private cars.

Initial measurements are showing no negative impact whatsoever, Bruzz reports, with data indicating that the number of visitors to the city has actually increased now that pedestrians, cyclists and public transit have been given higher priority.

An estimated 1.25 million people visited the shopping area in Brussels’ city centre, including the area between the Grand Place, Place de Bourse, Place de Brouckère and Place de la Monnaie.

This represents an increase of 13.6% over September, 4.8% over May, 6.4% over June and 5.6% over July.

Data also indicates that many of these people flocking to the city centre were from outside of Brussels and even outside the country. In October, 27% were Belgians from outside of Brussels, 35% were Brussels residents and 38% were tourists from abroad.

The Belgians come mainly from Flemish Brabant, but also from Walloon Brabant and Antwerp.

The figures were compiled by the City of Brussels, which worked with telecoms provider Proximus, among others, to count the number of smartphones that stay in the city centre for more than three hours.

This data was bolstered by a second counting system involving wifi sensors on Rue Neuve, which detect the number of people visiting the street every hour.

That count indicated that 991,000 visitors came to Rue Neuve in October during the opening hours of most shops, but residents and workers are not necessarily excluded in the data.

A comparison with this method from the previous year shows that 4% more visitors were recorded in October this year compared to the same time last year.

Fabian Maingain (DéFI), alderman for economic affairs, said that claiming Good Move negatively affected tourism or people’s ability to access the centre of Brussels is illogical, and that struggling shops in this area are not feeling the impact of the city’s mobility plan, but of inflation and the energy crisis.

“These have a double impact, both on retailers' turnover and on customers' purchasing power,” Maingain added.

But Maingain stopped short of endorsing the mobility plan in full: “We cannot say that Good Move is to blame for everything, but neither can we say that everything is going well with Good Move. I will continue to work to adjust the plan where necessary.”

Written by Helen Lyons