The head of the Hungarian Tourism Agency (MTÜ) has said that Hungarian tourism has every chance of remaining competitive in the region thanks to fleet-footed government decision-making in the early stages of the novel coronavirus outbreak. Zoltán Guller said, however, that the fallout of coronavirus would force lasting changes in services. He told the daily Magyar Nemzet intercontinental travel was not expected this year, but domestic tourism and travel to neighbouring countries was likely to pick up.
Safety will be the uppermost concern for tourists, he said in the interview published on Tuesday. Services that create safe conditions will see a return of custom, he added.
He said tourism in the countryside is now returning. The MTÜ agency is starting a public ad campaign in June to promote domestic tourism, he added.
Tourism accounted for 13% of Hungarian GDP in 2019, he noted. For the most part, tens of thousands of Hungarian-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in the sector provide a living for about 400,000 people.
Guller said the government had reacted quickly by throwing a lifebelt to Hungarian tourism, with such measures as reducing various taxes and contributions and introducing a loan repayment moratorium until the end of the year. The sector’s exposure to banks in terms of capital debt and interest payment obligations totals around 500 billion forints (EUR 1.4bn), he said.
Also, the suspension of the tourism tax and a big increase in how much employees can spend using their benefit-in-kind Szép Cards, in addition to various loan schemes, are providing effective support to the sector to weather the crisis, he added.