The port of Zeebrugge has an ideal location to serve the markets of continental Europe as well as the British Isles. It is a young seaport with modern port equipment suitable for the largest ships. The present structure of the port dates from as recent as 1985.
The emergence of the roll-on/roll-off techniques, the containerisation and the increase in the scale of the ships convinced the Belgian government in the seventies to develop the coastal port into a deepsea port.
An extensive outer port, a new sea lock with entrance to an inner port gave Zeebrugge new impulses in the years that followed. As a result, total cargo traffic tripled from 14 million tonnes in 1985 to 43.5 million tonnes in 2014.
The port of Zeebrugge is also one of the fastest growing ports in the range of ports between Le Havre and Hamburg, which together handle more than a billion tonnes of cargo a year. Almost every product the consumer finds in the shops, comes through these ports. Zeebrugge has become, in barely a couple of decades, one of the most important entry ports for the European market.
Zeebrugge has gradually developed itself into a versatile port, which does not just focus on European roll-on/roll off traffic. The coastal port is also important for intercontinental (container) traffic, container feeder traffic, conventional cargo, liquefied natural gas, cruises and last but not least traffic of new cars. In this section Zeebrugge even takes pole position in the world. The unit loads, roro and container traffics, take up three quarters of the total cargo throughput.
Zeebrugge is a deepsea port and guarantees sufficient water depth in the access channel to the outer port and along the quays, because of which the continually larger container ships can be loaded and unloaded at any time. This competitive advantage means that the largest shipping companies in the world have Zeebrugge on their sailing schedule. Several world-renowned container operators have invested substantially in the port infrastructure.
In combination with a wide range of intercontinental services and good hinterland connections, Zeebrugge is especially suited for intercontinental companies to organise their European or worldwide distribution. In the meantime, quite a few companies have invested in logistic centres. From here they add value to their cargo before distributing throughout Europe.
Zeebrugge has grown from a pure transit port to a logistic platform. The role of Zeebrugge as engine of the regional economy is growing. Today, 22,000 people have a job, directly or indirectly, thanks to the port.