The big Balaton survey – A beloved but inaccessible destination?
Half of Hungarian adults didn’t spend a day at Lake Balaton in the past five years. Who can take a vacation at Lake Balaton and who can’t? Do people prefer the northern or the southern coast? Would they travel to Balaton or abroad if they could afford it? Index.hu surveyed the habits of Hungarians regarding Lake Balaton and holidays.
According to the newest survey of Závecz Research, the opportunity of taking a vacation at Lake Balaton divides the Hungarian society into two. Not everyone can afford to enjoy the Balaton feeling, in fact, it turned out that a vacation at Lake Balaton is a privilege.
The chance of a holiday at the “Hungarian Sea” is proportional to the level of qualification and inversely proportional with age. Certain social layers – people with elementary education, 3/4 of the 60+ age group and 6/10 of village dwellers – haven’t seen the lake for five years.
The other end point includes professional classes, the age group under 30 and Budapest dwellers. Most of them have been to Lake Balaton in recent times. Another important factor is the region: the majority of the dwellers of the Great Hungarian Plain and North Hungary haven’t been able to go to the lake in the past 5 years, while people in other regions had several chances.
Looking at last year and this year, it can be stated that most Hungarians haven’t been to Lake Balaton, and the rate of frequent vacationers is quite low. 2/3 of adults haven’t visited the lake in the past two years. This is especially true for people over 60 (83%) and people with elementary qualification (85%). The lake seems to be an accessible destination for people under 40, people with higher qualification, Budapest dwellers and the dwellers of close-by regions.
The reality is that this is not only true for Lake Balaton. As we have recently reported, Eurostat found out that more than half of the Hungarians can’t afford a week-long holiday, which is the 5th worst standing in the European Union.
However, the rate is somewhat better when it comes to less than week-long holidays. Based on Index’s Balaton survey, 53% of Hungarians took a vacation last year, and 48% go on holiday this year. Last year, 28% chose Lake Balaton, while this rate is 25% this year. Other cities, villages, touristic regions attracted 36% Hungarian vacationers in 2016 and 29% this year. 15% of respondents took a vacation abroad both years.
Lake Balaton’s prestige is quite high. If people had the necessary financial circumstances, many of them would still choose Balaton instead of a foreign destination. The reasons behind this include the closeness of the lake, having a summer house in the neighbourhood, lower chance of crowded beaches and affordability. It seems like Lake Balaton is a beloved destination, 77% of those who haven’t been there in five years would love to visit.
The last topic the survey touched upon was the popularity of the northern and southern coasts. Most Hungarians prefer the southern coast (42%), but the northern coast also has quite a few supporters (33%). People in their 20s, 50s and 60s definitely prefer the southern coast, but there’s no significant difference in the 30s-40s age group. The northern coast is becoming more and more popular among the diplomaed, while Budapest dwellers are the only group who categorically favour the northern coast to the southern.