Turizmusonline.hu reports that, on the extraordinary meeting of MSZÉSZ (Hotel Association of Hungary), the governmental prospects of tourism and the strategic goals were introduced and the work of MSZÉSZ was evaluated by Gusztáv Bienerth, government commissioner for tourism and Ákos Niklai, president of the Association.
According to the site, Hungary’s tourism increased dynamically last year, while the guest nights were divided between domestic and foreign traffic in a 45-55% division. The internal traffic rose by 7% and the foreign grew by 4%. Furthermore, one of the most significant aims was to utilize the capacities more effectively, which were realized as the hotels’ capacity could grow by 3%. Regular statements made by the larger European cities show that Budapest had a favourable amount of room occupancy, the city got ranked as 14th. There was also a growth in net prices, though, the Association said it can still be improved, especially because the capital city was ranked 26th out of the 31 cities.
The main sending countries turned out to be Germany, Italy, France and Spain, but these market’s interest has actually somewhat decreased. Therefore, attention shall be paid to these traditional markets while targeting new markets as well, said Ákos Niklai. However, more visitors have arrived from the United Kingdom, probably because of the development of transportation, the Liszt Ferenc Airport and the expansion of destinations and flights of low cost airlines. Besides, the neighbouring European countries have sent more tourists to Hungary than before. For example, the number of tourists coming from the Czech Republic has increased 800 times.
Thus, Budapest and Hungary too have raised their values in the region and became the tourist centre of Central-Europe. Also, the governmental steps taken concerning tourism diplomacy and the launching of the direct flights resulted in an increase of the Chinese interest by more than 40%. It was noted too, that the prices of hotels of certified categories increased more than those of the non-certified ones. In the “quality hotels” major improvements were taken care of, conference centres were established and the countries tourist attractions were developed. The average star number is 3.6% which is also a significant improvement compared to the earlier years.
According to the forecast by the Association, the growth of the domestic demand shall be expected, which is also encouraged by the SZÉP (holiday and cafeteria) cards and the higher dispensable incomes of the Hungarians. Also, they hope the current migration statuses will not cause negative changes, especially because Hungary is said to be a safe destination. Aside lobbying, the service activity of the Association is significant, they gather information about hotel investments manually. They aim to make the new hotels well-known as well, thus, invite them to become their members and await applications for the Olympic tenders.
The qualification system of the hotels is based on the Hotelstars trademark system, of which Hungary has been a member ever since its foundation. The criteria are renewed annually, which is rather unique in Europe, as it is not a compulsory directive. In Hungary, there are 328 hotels of classification, and excellently, 60% of the Hungarian hotel capacities have been qualified. The trademark system aims to incite hotels towards quality, hence, this year the Association, with the support of the Ministry for National Economy, has launched two campaigns of 7 million HUF. To prepare for the Olympics the domestic tender grants the sufficient capacities. The Association helped the government to create a win-win situation for all participants and they compiled unitary contract plans, which will be signed on June 1.
Moreover, the Association is an active participant of the European Association (HOTREC). Ákos Niklai highlighted the fact that the Schengen system helps Hungary a lot in being more approachable. Besides, using digitalization and its advantages have become indispensable elements of tourism in our day and age. Though, in order to decrease the dividend, there are campaigns supporting direct bookings. The phenomenon of Airbnb is also something the Association deals with. In Hungary it is mainly present in Budapest, but at the Balaton and in other larger cities people may come across it too. In the capital there are about 6-7000 rooms operating in terms of private accommodation. Therefore, it needs governmental regulations said Niklai, for which there is research done on the question by HOTREC and the European Commission.
Importantly, it was mentioned that the VAT rate of catering will be of 18% next year, and later it will further decrease to 5%. Thus, the surplus may help the improvement of current dramatic labour situations, present chances for renovations, and also the development of new services. While, even though the inflation had risen majorly in the past 10 years, the net room prices, average prices have not reached it. It was also said that, in order to increase quality tourism, the net room prices need to be risen. Also, the governmental regulation of leasing was said to be unnecessary, while the establishment of a congress centre was decided and 5 billion HUF was envisaged for the development. Negotiations with Artisjus have begun with the cooperation of several associations.
Further points mentioned were the fulfillment of the idea of “value for money” and thus saying goodbye to the “cheap destination” image. This idea is greatly supported by the “gastro-revolution” that went on in Hungary and the success at the Bocuse d’Or. At the meeting the labour shortage was also discussed, the low VAT rate suggested by the Association would aim to solve this problem, as the seasonality of tourism would be improved, resulting in better reservations and the constant employment of labour force.
In addition, the improvement of the effectiveness of the education is aimed for as well, because the dual training was not designed properly. Also, it was mentioned that the dramatic decrease of the German market should be stopped and prevented, for the number of the German guest nights has dropped by more than the half of the previous data. Finally, Matthias Koch, president of the Austrian hotel association introduced the Hotel der Zukunft (Hotel of the Future) project, which includes the care for the new kind of needs of customers, their changed attitude and mentioned the necessity of other attitudes concerning the service.
Copy editor: bm