Whether or not large festivals can be organised again this summer, as Prime Minister De Croo announced on 9 May, will hopefully become clear on the 11th of May. However, what we already know is that Belgians are eager to visit events again and even willing to make compromises to make this happen. This is what we learn from the national survey that the centre of expertise Public Impact of KdG University of Applied Sciences and Arts carried out in April among 1,000 Belgians for the third time since the outbreak of the corona crisis.
Of all Belgians who visited events before the corona crisis, 67 percent miss going to events. That is an increase of 11 percent compared to almost a year ago. The miss is even greater among visitors younger than 34. In this age category, no less than 81 percent miss being able to attend events. The longer the crisis lasts, the more visitors miss their events and this miss is clearly greater among the younger generation.
Events more important than ever, also festivals
"It is striking that half of the visitors indicate that, thanks to the corona crisis, they now realise how important events are to them," emphasises researcher Jolien Vangeel of the centre of expertise Public Impact. "And they are very clear in their preferences: 19 percent of visitors choose to go to a cultural performance first, as soon as it is allowed again. For 12 percent, concerts are number one. As for festivals, 24 percent have them in their top three. Among visitors under 34 years of age, this is even more than 40 percent."
Sense of insecurity decreases
However, the increasing lack of safety contrasts the feeling of insecurity. The longer the crisis lasts, the fewer visitors indicate that they will never again feel 100 percent safe at events. And this is noticeable across all age groups. Only 3 visitor in 10 indicate that this feeling of insecurity will be permanent.
What is striking, though, is that 57 percent of visitors indicate that they only want to return to events after they have been vaccinated. For 44 percent, this is even an absolute condition. Among the over-55s, 72% only want to visit events as soon as they are vaccinated and 57% even consider this an absolute condition. Nearly one-third of visitors under the age of 34 think that being vaccinated should be an obligation in order to be allowed to go to events. This is a striking result compared to last year, when only one in four visitors said they would not go back to events until the vaccine was available.
Willingness to compromise increases
The desire to go to events is so strong, that still almost 65 percent of visitors indicate that they would rather go to an event where social distancing is compulsory than not be able to go to events at all. The same evolution is noticeable for mouth masks: for this measure, 60 percent indicate that they would rather go to an event where mouth masks are compulsory.
Moreover, even undergoing rapid tests at the start of an event is no problem for 65 percent of visitors. 43 percent even consider this an absolute condition. And even a corona passport is accepted by 56 percent, if it means they can go to events faster. Only 23 percent of visitors think that such a corona passport is not a good idea. For 43 percent of visitors, it is even an absolute condition. It is striking that the older people are, the more important they consider this to be.
"Visitors are also willing to compromise on prices," Jolien Vangeel continues. "Almost half are prepared to pay more for drinks and food during events. This is even an increase compared to a year ago. And when it comes to ticket prices, only one third is not prepared to pay a little more to help the organisers bear the extra costs."
Confidence in safe organisation grows
Trust in organisers is growing, that much is clear. Almost 70 percent of visitors stress that they are sure that the organisers will take the correct precautions to ensure that everything will run safely. Only 10 per cent are worried about this.
After all, after more than a year of corona crisis, 78 percent of visitors still consider the compulsory use of hygiene measures at events an absolute condition to go back to events. Also the obligation to keep a sufficient distance (65 percent) and the compulsory use of masks by both personnel (66 percent) and visitors (58 percent) are considered important, as is the monitoring of compliance with the measures (72 percent).
If the organisation of events complies with the safety measures considered important for visitors, 85 percent say they would like to visit events again. And 22 percent even indicate that they want to go immediately, as soon as it is allowed again. Being able to attract enough visitors is of course very important once events are allowed again.
In April 2021, 1,000 Belgians were surveyed. More than 90 percent of Belgians indicated that they regularly attended events before the corona crisis. It is the answer of these respondents that were recorded for further analysis and reporting. The sample is representative according to gender, age, educational level, migration background and family size. The survey ran from 9 to 21 April 2021.
Also in June and September 2020, the expertise centre surveyed 1,000 Belgians.These periodic surveys of event visitors are part of a large-scale study by the centre of expertise into the impact of the corona crisis on the event sector. This research was started in 2020 and executed in collaboration with VISITFLANDERS, EventFlanders and several Belgian event federations.