Global tourism is at its peak, and it’s above the global average in Hungary. Budapest is the most visited city in the country, being the favourite of foreign tourists, but the city is not even close its maximum capacity. This massive tourism has a dark side as well; there are cities in Europe where tourists make people’s life a hell. If Budapest’s popularity continues, we’re likely to go down the same road.
Hungary’s tourism has been steadily growing in the past few years: according to the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (KSH), the number of foreign tourists was more than 4.6 million in 2014, which is a 5.2% growth compared to the previous year. Most tourists choose Budapest: out of the 12 million overnight stays spent by foreigners in the region, 7.5 million was spent in Budapest. In comparison, only 1.7 million overnight stays were spent at Lake Balaton.
According to Mastercard’s most recent survey regarding tourism, there were 3 million tourists in the Hungarian capital, becoming the third most popular city in the region, after Wien and Prague, which had 6.1 million and 4.9 million visitors in 2014, respectively.
However, there are not only less tourists in Budapest, but they spend less money while they’re here, compared to the other two cities: it’s 218.000 HUF in Wien, 165.000 HUF in Prague, and only 98.000 HUF in Budapest.
The reason for that is most probably – besides Budapest having lower prices compared to other European cities – that most tourists come here for the “low-budget party tourism.” This kind of tourism has gradually increased in the past few years, bringing us the age of ruin pubs, encouraged by many.
Although tourism creates jobs, it’s good for the economy and the residents of the city, it has its backlashes as well: too many people, vandalism, the lack of peace. Cities like Barcelona are already struggling with the massive amount of tourists pouring into the city from year to year, and even began to protest against them. Locals were forced to move into other, less popular areas, as it was impossible for them to live in the party zone any longer (there are 1.6 million permanent residents in Barcelona, and it has approximately 7.5 million tourists a year).
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) tourism gives work to every 11th person in the world, and the number of tourists has increased from 25 million to 1.133 billion from 1950 to today. It’s true that more and more people travel, has tourism related jobs, and the industry makes significant contributions to a country’s GDP (for more information and statistics visit http://www.wttc.org/ ).
The question is, if Budapest is ready for more tourists – or if it can handle those who are already here. Visitors do not stay here for years; they don’t go to work or school, as the rest of the country. Airbnb is flourishing, people move into apartments which once belonged to everyday people, who are either forced to bear the behaviour of these tourists and live with them, or pack up and move out.
It’s unclear at the moment if Budapest ends up like Barcelona, and become the city of tourists, forcing people to leave their own city – but tourists keep coming, because the Hungarian capital is still charming in 2015.
based on an article of index.hu
translated by Adrienn Sain