Focusing On Foreigners Visiting Hungary For Health Tourism

  • 11 Dec 2013 8:00 AM
Focusing On Foreigners Visiting Hungary For Health Tourism
Deputy State Secretary for Tourism Dr Viktória Horváth held a presentation at a professional conference on the key development priorities of Hungarian health tourism and the National Tourism Development Concept (2012-2024) which is currently under social consultation. The Government plans to increase by 2024 the share of the tourism sector within Hungary’s GDP to as much as 10 percent.

In 2012, 13.2 percent of foreign tourists visiting Hungary were motivated by health tourism, the Deputy State Secretary said. Hungary’s health tourism is centred mainly around 16 domestic health resorts: Miskolc-Lillafüred, Harkány, Sopron-Balf, Gyöngyös-Kékestető, Hévíz, Balatonfüred, Parád, Hajdúszoboszló, Zalakaros, Bükfürdő, Eger, Debrecen, Gyula, Sárvár, Nyíregyháza-Sóstógyógyfürdő and Mezőkövesd.

11 out of the 50 most frequented Hungarian locations are health resorts: Hévíz (2nd), Hajdúszoboszló (4th), Bük (6th), Balatonfüred (9th), Sárvár (12th), Zalakaros (14th), Eger (19th), Gyula (20th), Debrecen (22nd), Harkány (28th) és Nyíregyháza (43rd). The 6 following health resorts have also made it to the TOP 10 tourism destinations: Hévíz, Hajdúszoboszló, Bük, Balatonfüred, Zalakaros and Sárvár. At the most popular health resorts domestic tourists dominate in Hajdúszoboszló (63%) and Zalakaros (67%), while the majority of tourism nights are spent by foreigners in Hévíz (65%), Bük (60%), Balatonfüred (67%) and Sárvár (59%).

Until 2024, tourism development will focus on increasing the share of the sector’s contribution to domestic GDP to 10 percent and boosting the number of people employed directly within tourism by 50 percent, first and foremost through combating the grey economy. Among the more concrete objectives are the complex development of 3-5 health resorts of international reputation and 8-10 regional baths.

As Dr Viktória Horváth stressed, Hungary will only be capable of becoming one of Europe’s top health tourism powerhouses if the therapeutic, curative effect of thermal waters can be highlighted, the baths can offer special healthcare services, service packages can be offered for disabled guests and in case other natural health factors can be better exploited (such as climatic, cave therapy, dry carbon dioxide bath).

Other concrete goals are the complex development of bath destinations by exploiting opportunities arising from theme-based or segment-based categorization, utilizing cross-border healthcare service options, establishing a uniform e-health platform titled “Healthy Hungary” and a related customer service call center, increasing the number of certified health resorts, developing offers based on natural health factors and continuing evidence-based thermal spring water research, she added.

The Deputy State Minister stressed that the Ministry for National Economy has established a working group to elaborate a medical evidence-based research programme designed to assess the balneologic effect of spring waters. The working paper for the research programme has been completed and it is currently under professional evaluation, Viktória Horváth added. It will be possible to submit tender applications for health tourism development projects through various programmes within the EU development funds for 2014-2020.

The operative programme for economic development and innovation will provide opportunities for large-scale projects and development projects of prioritized destinations, but funding will also be made available for spring water research, the development of complex health resorts and for bolstering energy efficiency (by modernizing the outdated energy systems of baths). Smaller but coordinated tourism development programmes, which are drafted on the basis of the development concepts of Counties and the formulation of complex product packages are expected to be funded by the operative programme for regional and urban development.

Within the framework of the Competitive Hungary operative programme, in prioritized health destinations the integrated development of health tourism facilities and related services, development projects aimed at improving energy efficiency and the development of services related to old-age care and marketable healthcare, medical, personal and communal services are anticipated to be implemented, Dr Viktória Horváth said.

Source: Ministry for National Economy

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