And even now, the European Commission told The Associated Press, “bookings for September and October remain abnormally low," as dire as 10 percent of capacity in Bruges.
It dents hopes that a brief uptick in business in July would be a harbinger of something more permanent.
Over the summer, though, came fresh spikes in Covid-19 contamination, especially in Spain and France, new restrictive measures and regional color codes that spelled disaster for local tourism when they turn red.
It left the European tourism industry relying on hope more than anything else.
That was evident on a late summer's day in Bruges, when usually throngs of American, Asian, and European tourists stroll along the cobblestone streets below the city's gabled houses, bringing annual visits to over 8 million in the city of 110,000.
“The swans have it all to themselves," muttered Michiel Michielsens as he slowed his boat behind a bank of swans on a city canal.
On a normal day — not like the one when he had 114 customers instead of 1,200 — tourists instead of birds would rule the waters.
Now a boat could be seen showing a single couple around instead of its normal load of 40 people.
For tourists who can live with wearing masks for hours, there are some advantages.