New figures show that, despite its image problem and the recent scares, more and more Britons are visiting Bruges and Brussels. Belgium is obviously no longer boring for Britons.
The two cities come third and fourth in a league table of cities visited in the first six months of 1999.
Travelscene, a short-break specialist holiday company which released the visitor league table yesterday, said Bruges was gaining on Amsterdam, which is currently in second position.
Attractive packages from low-cost airlines have boosted the Italian market, but Paris and Amsterdam remain the first and second choice for British tourists.
The number of visitors to Rome is up 17 per cent, while Florence's visitors have risen by 24 per cent and Venice's by 33 per cent.
German cities - until now well down the table - have been helped by the weakness of the Mark, growing by 47 per cent. Berlin and Munich are the most popular cities for visitors to Germany.
The biggest growth of all has been enjoyed by Palma, in Majorca, where visitor numbers are up by 106 per cent.
Seville, in southern Spain, has had 36 per cent more visitors in the first half of this year compared with the first half of last year, while New York notched up a 28-per-cent increase.
The top 10 for January-June 1999, with the January-June 1998 positions in brackets, are: 1. Paris (1), 2. Amsterdam (2), 3. Bruges (3), 4. Brussels (4), 5. Rome (6), 6. Dublin (5), 7. Venice (8), 8. Barcelona (7), 9. Madrid (10), 10. Lille (11)Reuse content