The tourism sector on the Belgian coast drew a satisfactory balance from the extended weekend of 21 July, despite the somewhat capricious summer weather, Westtoer reported on Sunday.

The tourist agency recorded 700,000 overnight stays and 250,000 day trip tourists over the whole weekend, it announced.
”Despite the extended weekend being one day shorter than last year – when July 21 was a Thursday – the number of overnight tourist stays is only slightly lower (-3%) than in 2022,” the agency says.

According to the data provided by Westtoer, the busiest night was Friday to Saturday, with no fewer than 240,000 tourists staying over night.

In 2022, 340,000 day-trippers headed for the coast. With 250,000 this year, the number is lower. ”The fickle summer weather undoubtedly explains this sharp drop compared with a fully sunny long weekend,” explains Westtoer.

“The web store is therefore only accessible to consumers, not to professional buyers. We want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to purchase Trappist Westvleteren at the correct price. Anyone who does not adhere to the sales rules and abuses the system will be denied access to the online store.”

A crate of 24 bottles of the highly prized Westvleteren 12 costs €45 direct from the abbey.

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The new system, which will be launched between 10am and 11am on Tuesday, allows the monks to link bottles to buyers, should they appear on sale elsewhere.

Customers will need to create a profile leaving their date of birth, address, mobile phone number, email address and the number plate of their car.

Last year, the monks of St Sixtus, who received their first brewing licence signed by King Leopold I in 1839, expressed their disappointment when it was discovered that the Jan Linders supermarket chain, without the permission or knowledge of the abbey, had been selling three types of the renowned beer at about five times the price charged by the monks.

From 6,000 hectolitres – about 1m pints – produced annually over 42 brewing days, the monks brew three beers: a blonde that is 5.8% alcohol, and Westvleteren 8 and 12, the latter of which is regularly ranked as the best beer in the world despite its hefty 10.2% alcohol by volume.

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