Last year, the number of visitors at the 200 most significant Hungarian baths frequented also by tourists was some 31 million and development projects related to these are to be continued in the coming EU fiscal period, Deputy State Secretary for Tourism Viktória Horváth said at a press conference held in Budapest.
As she pointed out, one of the most significant segments of Hungary’s domestic tourism sector is health tourism which – through spa and thermal water related services – generates revenues of some HUF 150bn that flows into the economy.
The Deputy State Secretary stressed that the annual turnover of Hungarian baths is some HUF 44bn; however, their significance lies not only in their economic but healthcare impact. The number of foreign and domestic tourists seeking preventive care is some 2 million and 560 thousand per year, respectively, Viktória Horváth said. She pointed out that the Government is aiming to improve the quality of the operation and services at baths, as a well-functioning bath can spend more on development and employment.
Secretary General of Hungarian Baths Association Szabolcs Juhász stated that baths – similarly to hotels – are planned to be qualified. The national tourism trademark will help guests select the establishments that provide the best value for their money. Aqua parks, thermal, medical and wellness baths which join the system will be awarded 1-5 stars by the Ministry for National Economy and the Hungarian Baths Association. Some one-third of the 200 permanently or seasonally operating baths are expected to join the system, he added.
CEO of Budapest Spas Plc László Szőke emphasised that Budapest baths have become a cornerstone of Hungary’s tourism sector as out of the 3.9 million foreign guests the number of those visiting a bath in Budapest was 1.5 million last year. As far as the total number of visitors is concerned, László Szőke underlined that this figure jumped from 2.9 million in 2010 to 3.3 million in 2013. The growth has been mainly driven by the Széchenyi Recreation Card which boosted revenues to HUF 400 million this year. He added that while in 2010 the share of foreign tourists among visitors was 20 percent this indicator was nearing 50 percent this year.
Ministry for National Economy
Photo: MTI- Tamas Soki