Domestic tourism is still in steady decline. In July the number of tourism nights spent in public accommodation increased 3.3 per cent but domestic tourism fell 1.1 per cent year-on-year while foreign tourism rose 8.9 per cent, according to the Central Statistical Office (KSH).
Foreign tourists spent HUF 9.5 billion (EUR 33.45 million) and Hungarians spent HUF 5.8 billion (EUR 20.42 million) on accommodation. Four- and five-star hotels appear to have profited most, with average occupancy remaining above average. The average room rate rose 7.7 per cent compared to July last year and hovers around HUF 14,898 (EUR 52.46).
The increase is largely attributed to foreign tourism in Budapest, which increased 17 per cent on July 2012. The traditionally popular Lake Balaton failed to attract more tourism than last year.
Malév leaves a void
The numbers continue a four-month trend of declining domestic tourism outweighed by growing numbers of foreign tourists in Budapest. Hotel director Zoltán Géher, general manager of Zeina Hotels, said Budapest’s image as a cheap party destination is swelling foreign tourism. He said that as other airlines fill the gap left by the bankruptcy of national carrier Malév holidays in Budapest are becoming more attractive again for foreigners seeking a bargain.
But such an image is hurting sales in the higher segment of the capital’s tourism industry and will not go away any time soon, Géher said.
Budapest is also perceived as lacking high-profile “MICE” events – Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions – which can attract higher-end visitors. But without better convention facilities and with budget airlines dominating the market, the chances of attracting more such meetings remain slim.
Other hotels who did not want to be named concurred; it has become increasingly difficult for international organizers of conventions to book flights to and from Budapest. Malév had been frequently used by many companies to get their high profile customers in and out of Budapest. With other aircraft carriers only slowly filling the void left by Malév, the lack of convenient and quality travel connections has heavily impacted high-quality tourism. If this is a long-term trend or not is yet to be seen.
Currently, hotels in Budapest will increasingly try to leverage their prices to stand their ground against international competitors to attract high profile customers. As it stands, Budapest remains amongst the cheaper capital cities in Europe. Hotels can therefore provide high quality services at comparatively cheap rates.
The first new stars are out
Just 457 of of 870 hotels in Hungary have signed up for the Hungarian Hotel and Restaurant Association’s Hotelstars classification system, business daily Világgazdaság reported on Wednesday.
The system became the only one Hungarian hotels may use from July 1, 2012, state news agency MTI reported.
European wide classification
The star-system is part of a wider system the Hotelstar Union is trying to establish throughout the European Union. According to their website hotelstars.eu, the goal is to create a harmonised system of hot classification. The founding members Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland believe that a harmonised classification will ultimately lead to a more coherent measurement for consumers. This is supposed to enhance reputation and quality of hotel industry in the member-states. Since 2011 four more countries, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have joined the association.