The tourism sector has suffered the most profound crisis due to the pandemic that caused drastic revenue losses in the industry this spring. However, the epidemic subsidence and the lifting of restrictions seem to have boosted Hungarians’ desire to travel; as a result, the occupancy rate of Hungarian accommodations was almost 50% at Pentecost. As far as domestic tourism is concerned, business operators are quite optimistic about the summer season.
According to Tamás Flesch, president of the Association of Hungarian Hotels and Restaurants (MSZÉSZ), it seems unlikely that Budapest’s tourism will restart before September.
It seems that part of the domestic demand may recover this year, mainly in the case of rural tourism; still, foreign visitors may stay behind for a long time, which mostly affects accommodations in the capital.
95% of tourists arriving in Budapest are foreign visitors, and even if guests show up in Budapest hotels from September, accommodations expect a turnover of around 30%. The expert also added that it is impossible to forecast when the situation will get back to normal, but for now, they hope that perhaps this will be realised for next spring.
However, the good news is that bookings have started in the countryside, with an occupancy rate of 50% during the Pentecost weekend, which shows only 15-20% fallback compared to the same period last year.
“Even though Hungarians would like to travel domestically, the problem may be that many people have already taken their annual leave during the quarantine period, which is also reflected in the occupancy data: the weekends are quite busy, but the numbers are much lower on weekdays” – said Tamás Flesch.
According to the Hungarian hotel chain Danubius Hotels, people are still cautious with travelling – despite flexible booking conditions, the former travel mood has not returned yet. In recent weeks, guests have started to re-plan and make reservations; therefore, they expect that domestic tourism will intensify in the next period. The summer period is likely to become more prevalent in the countryside and around Lake Balaton; however, the situation is different in Budapest, as a result of which, the hotel chain still postpones reopening in the capital.
Hunguest Hotel chain does not expect an outstanding season either. The reopening is realised in stages – besides two hotels in the countryside, their hotels in Hajdúszoboszló and Zalakaros will open this weekend. Even though August is expected to be the best month just like every year, the crisis has hit the two hotel chains so profoundly that some member hotels might remain closed until the end of the year.
It has been also revealed that severe redundancies have been carried out as a result of the pandemic situation.
Before the economic crisis, approximately 400,000 people worked in the tourism sector, but only 60% could keep their jobs. The proportion is even more dramatic in the case of hospitality – about 200,000 people worked in the industry, out of which 80% lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
As the Hungarian news portal Portfolio reports,
bookings in June are still fewer than last year, but the occupancy rate in July is already encouraging. Furthermore, reservations for the long weekend of 20th August have already exceeded the previous year’s results by 7%.
In the Balaton Uplands and larger cities, there are settlements where the number of hotel guests has doubled compared to last year. However, there is still free capacity at several accommodations around Lake Balaton, for example in Balatonalmádi, Balatonvilágos, Balatonkenese and Zamárdi, where the number of bookings has halved for the following months. Spa towns like Miskolctapolca or Kehidakustány are not attractive yet, and interest has halved. Even though rural tourism grew by 500% compared to last year, it still represents only a few hundred travellers nationwide.
According to the data of Szállás.hu, the highest demand is experienced in the case of apartments and guest houses, and two-thirds of the bookings are made without board. Demand decreased in almost all hotel categories (1-4 stars or without stars), except for the 5-star classification.
“These trends are likely to be related to the changing consumer needs: the majority of guests are looking for a place where they can avoid crowd and contact with strangers, and prefer impeccable hygienic accommodation” – said Lili Kelemen, spokesperson for Szállás.hu who also noted that accommodations have not yet started to offer discounts.
Accommodation prices per capita increased by 3% compared to the previous year. Taking into account all types of accommodation, this year the average Hungarian price is EUR 25 (~HUF 8,480) / person / night between 1st June and 30th August.