Even greater expansion than expected and consistent construction characterizes international and local tourism, and these two traits also defined the 42nd Travel Exhibition that has just concluded and which welcomed significantly more visitors than last year. This year 300 exhibitors from 30 countries brought their novelties to HUNGEXPO Budapest Fair Center. Active relaxation and adventure were at the center of Hungary’s number one tourism exhibition. This new pairing had a successful debut: The Travel Exhibition and the Budapest Boat Show complemented each other perfectly.
A total of 35,000 visitors, a significant increase year on year, came to the Travel Exhibition and the Budapest Boat Show, which were held simultaneously (this number is 25% higher than the combined total of last year’s visitor numbers to the two exhibitions). Tourism experts say the increased visitor numbers signal the expansion of local purchasing power and the strengthening of international tourism.
Expanding industry, growing numbers
During the opening speech, the CEO of HUNGEXPO highlighted that the industry had an especially successful year in 2018: considering the multiplier effects, it produced almost 10% of the Hungarian gross domestic product (GDP). Gábor Ganczer added: you can only survive in this area if you can adapt to changes and trends. The fact that there were even more exhibitors than last year shows that more and more are finding success.
Zoltán Somogyi, tourism expert and former vice-president of UNWTO, also spoke about the increased interest in the industry. In the presentation he held at the professional day of the exhibition he said: the number of international tourist arrivals last year reached 1.4 billion, a number which industry leaders had only forecasted for 2020. The main driving forces for development are a favorable economic environment, a rise in incomes, high outbound demand from the main sending countries (e.g. China), consolidation in key destinations previously struck by crises, increasing transportation possibilities and simplified visa procedures.
Áron Szabó, Director for Accommodations and Catering at the Hungarian Tourism Agency said: even with up-to-date data it is difficult to make a prognosis, and the local accommodation statistics are not at all up to date. The most recent data is from last December. Among other reasons, rectifying this situation was why the National Tourism Information Center (NTAK) was created, which will provide real-time statistical data. He added that the system will begin this year, and by as early as July hotels will be required to start providing data to NTAK. The goal of creating this system was to help the industry digitalize, as well as to decrease the administration of accommodations. Locations with a maximum of 8 rooms will be provided with a free, easy to use software, for which testing has already started, he added.
Teodóra Bán, Managing Director of the Budapest Festival and Tourism Center (BTFK) has declared it a shared success of the Hungarian tourism profession that Budapest has won first place in the European Best Destinations contest. Half a million people voted for the best European destination on the internet and the Hungarian capital won with the most votes ever (more than 62,000). Budapest is not only the capital of tourism now, but the culture and sports capital as well, said Teodóra Bán at the debut of the BFTK’s 400 square meter stand, where, among others, the leaders of the Hungarian sports associations presented this year’s plans for the capital. In the open “spectacle arena” the visitors could meet sport stars and the official ambassadors of the Budapest Sports capital during the exhibition.
Debuted in 2018, Active Island was again a great success this year, at which visitors could take a virtual journey through the most beautiful regions of the country. The new virtual contents included an escape room, a bicycle tour and a military camping adventure. They presented one of the exhibitions’ most anticipated project, the Holiday Ship Program, and with it Hungary’s first Holiday Ship. Máriusz Révész, the government commissioner for the Active Hungary programme, highlighted that the winner of the public procurement, the French company Nicols, will deliver 9 more vessels this year and another 10 in 2020. He stressed that the manufacturer, as a result of the procurement procedure, will deliver the 20 vessels cheaper and with greater facilities.
The Nicols type boats can be operated without a license and will serve those who wish to vacation and sail on Lake Tisza, Upper-Tisza and the Bodrog.
A host of visitors sought out the Blogger Corner, where the best known travel bloggers shared their experiences and gave useful advice to travelers. The Unwalked Paths Festival, Hungary’s biggest event for independent and extreme travelers, was held during the exhibition. Several hundred people attended the more than 60 presentations, workshops and roundtable discussions. The main theme of this year was active tourism, environmental awareness and sustainable tourism.
More than 50 vehicles and even more equipment than ever related to this form of travel were presented to the visitors in the CARAVAN SALON, which presented the entire Hungarian trailer and camper selection.
The Africa Expo was held on a larger area than ever before (800 square meters). The traditional program of the Travel Exhibition is the first, and to date the only and thus the most exclusive, four-day international Africa themed forum in Central Eastern Europe since 2011.
At the Student Professional Day, during which the European Union’s EU Next Tourism Generation project was also introduced, five Hungarian university students showcased their tourism themed projects in front of a professional jury.
This year’s foreign guest of honour of the Travel Exhibition was Algeria. Africa’s largest country showcased itself through music, gastronomy and adventure programs. As the local guests of honour, Bács-Kiskun County and Kecskemét appeared with 28 municipalities and 6 organizations working together in an attempt to introduce the county with the biggest land area and its capital.
The exhibition’s cultural guest of honour, the National Palace Program and National Castle Program presented their project, including 39 monuments (20 palaces and 19 castles).
The photos of the exhibition are accessible here: http://hungexpo.hu/en/press-releases
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