Balázs Klemm, an opinion-forming expert in tourism, shared his thoughts on a number of topics. He mainly talked about the impact of Covid-19 on Hungarian tourism, as well as the 2020 and 2021 tourist seasons and the possibilities for tourism.
Balázs Klemm, the owner of the Hotel & More Group, starts by saying how they survived last year. “Tourism exploded in June, then it was booming for months, and in the end, we had a very good summer. It was a summer with outstanding traffic that surpassed 2019’s in many places. At the beginning of September, however, the traffic decreased, also in places where tourists come all year round, such as Hévíz, which is also visited by foreign guests, and the shores of Lake Balaton. We did not announce a shutdown in November, and our hotels continue to receive guests for educational, business, and economic purposes.”
He added that where possible, a discount was applied to retain staff so that hotels could operate with minimal traffic. Most places in the tourism sector try to retain their employees. If it is possible to reopen after the closures are over, it is preferable to have an experienced, skilled workforce who also have local knowledge. Balázs Klemm’s hotels have typically experienced 5-6 per cent of tourist traffic in recent months, writes uzletesutazas.hu.
The pandemic also required changes in hotel operations.
“All guests must have their hands disinfected when they arrive at the hotel, and the use of a mask is mandatory everywhere, of course,”
said Balázs Klemm. Low occupancy is a good opportunity for hotels to renovate, change their image, and make improvements. At Klemm hotels, for example, they are working on a mobile app to help customers stay in touch with the hotel. There was also time to paint the rooms and common areas and to maintain and renovate machines. Moreover, the wellness department was renewed.
Klemm shared his thoughts on how he sees the situation of Hungarian tourism in 2021. “I think that tourism will explode in the countryside again, it will boom, as foreign travel is only available with limits. I think people are afraid of the virus until full vaccination coverage is achieved, so they will prefer a domestic holiday.
Rural tourism will therefore definitely develop as it did from June 2020 until October 2020.
I believe that tourism will revive in Budapest in 2022, but it will only reach the 2019 level by 2024. I expect the opening to be connected to vaccination coverage, with a partial opening subject to stricter conditions and regulations expected before May. Unfortunately, many people lost their jobs because there were companies in the tourism sector where the owner or operator could not continue to operate their business financially, so they had to close down.”
Finally, he concluded by emphasising the importance of the younger generation as a source of fresh, creative energy that can help boost the tourism industry.