Tourism in Hungary Hits Record Levels - Favourite Foreign Tourist Spots Revealed

  • 9 Aug 2023 10:30 AM
  • Hungary Today
Tourism in Hungary Hits Record Levels - Favourite Foreign Tourist Spots Revealed
Tourism is breaking records everywhere in Hungary this year, Magyar Nemzet reports. The latest national figures approach or even surpass the best year of 2019, the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office said Wednesday in Tarcal (northern Hungary).

Gergely Gulyás, speaking at the inauguration of the more than three-and-a-half-kilometer-long communal vineyard road, renovated as part of the Tokaj-Zemplén regional development program, stressed that there are still incredible opportunities in the sector and that there are parts of the country that have not yet been sufficiently explored.

The government is determined to support local plans and developments in the region, and Tokaj-Hegyalja as one of the most beautiful regions of the country will also receive the recognition it deserves in the tourism sector in the coming years.

The road renovation, financed by the government with almost HUF 620 million (EUR 1.6 million), is a new tourist project that will allow both farmers and landowners, as well as tourists coming to Tokaj-Hegyalja, to access the vineyards by bike or on foot.

Zsófia Koncz, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Ministry of Energy, Fidesz Member of Parliament for the region, said that in addition to the development of infrastructure, the construction of roads and bicycle paths, the accommodation and related services in Tokaj-Hegyalja have been expanded and developed in recent years.

Four and five-star hotels have been built, and the services and attractions are constantly being developed and expanded.

Tokaj-Hegyalja wine region is a historical wine region located in northeastern Hungary and southeastern Slovakia. It is also one of the seven larger wine regions of Hungary.

It covers 88,124 hectares. In 2002, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed it on the World Heritage List as the Tokaj-Hegyalja Historic Wine Region Cultural Landscape.

According to the Central Statistical Office, the number of guests in June was 3.8 percent higher and the number of overnight stays was 0.8 percent lower than last year.

The number of overnight stays by domestic guests fell by 10 percent, while the number of overnight stays by foreign guests rose by 14 percent. From January to June 2023, domestic guests spent eight percent fewer nights and foreign guests spent 13 percent more nights in tourist accommodations than during the same period last year.

The most popular tourist regions include Lake Balaton, being particularly popular with foreign guests, and the Mátra and Bükk Mountains.

Here Are the Most Popular Foreign Tourist Destinations in Hungary

The capital, Lake Balaton, and the major spa towns were again the most popular domestic destinations last year. However, the picture is different for domestic and foreign tourists.

While domestic tourism became predominant mainly during the COVID epidemic, by 2022, the number of nights spent by foreigners had already surpassed that of domestic tourists (13,400 and 8,800 respectively), according to research by the Oeconomus Economic Research Foundation, reports Magyar Nemzet.

As a result of the recovery, foreign visitors are gradually returning to Hungarian tourist destinations.

Foreign tourists arriving last year mainly visited Budapest. Among rural destinations, spa town Hévíz, Bük, Sárvár, in western Hungary, Hajdúszoboszló and Debrecen in eastern Hungary, Siófok and Balatonfüred around Lake Balaton), Győr (northwestern Hungary), and Szeged (southern Hungary) were the most popular.

The capital was also visited by many Hungarians, but while Budapest was the destination of choice for around three quarters of foreigners, only a quarter of Hungarians chose Budapest.

Of the rural destinations, the most visited were the settlements around Lake Balaton, especially Siófok and Balatonfüred. These cities were followed by spa towns: Hajdúszoboszló, Zalakaros, Hévíz, Gyula, Eger, Miskolc, and Bük.

Although foreign tourists are most likely to visit Budapest, there are also some popular destinations in the countryside for them as well.

Hévíz has typically been a favorite destination for Russian tourists, but numbers have recently fallen due to the Russian-Ukrainian war, and the town is trying to make up for lost visitors from other markets, mainly from neighboring countries such as Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, as well as Germany, already being a traditional market for Hévíz tourism.

In 2022, the total number of tourist nights exceeded one million, meaning that the recovery after the epidemic has continued and has partially replaced Russian visitors.

Hajdúszoboszló (eastern Hungary) is mainly visited by Poles and Romanians, but also by tourists from Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and other EU countries. Spa town Bük (in western Hungary, close to the Austrian border) is the third most popular destination, with the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, and Slovakia being the most important markets for visitors.

Tourism has become the third largest export sector in the world, behind trade in fuels and chemicals. In the last few years, international tourism has experienced a boom, accounting for seven percent of total world exports in 2016.

It stimulates the economy in many ways, contributes to a country’s GDP growth, and plays an important role in employment. In addition, tourism has a very positive impact on a country’s balance of payments, i.e. tourism generates foreign income for the country.

At the same time, the sector generates significant foreign exchange and foreign currency earnings, and increases demand for domestic currency, which strengthens its exchange rate.

As leisure time abroad means that income earned at home is spent abroad, worsening the balance of payments – i.e. income flows out of the country – it is important that the government provides incentives to support the sector. The Hungarian government has introduced a number of such incentives.

The Széchenyi Pension Card (SZÉP Card) is a fringe benefit within the framework of the cafeteria system that employees can receive from their employer. It is one of the most important instruments to stimulate domestic tourism, with the basic aim of increasing the turnover of tourism service providers and helping them to operate profitably.

The Kisfaludy program is one of the key pillars of the National Tourism Development Strategy 2030 – Tourism 2.0 adopted by the government.

The aim of the government’s umbrella program, bringing together the largest-ever domestic tourism developments, is to make Hungary the tourism hub of Central Europe by 2030.

In addition, the sector has also received targeted support in recent years, including during the COVID epidemic.

MTI Photo: Péter Komka

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