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Russian tourists boost Hungary spa tourism

Tourism

Russian tourist have brought money, new jobs, and even boosted the moribund real estate market during a deep, economic downturn to Hungary's spa town Héviz, Reuters said. While some former eastern bloc countries still resent the former overlord of ex-communist eastern Europe, residents of Héviz say the ill feelings towards Russia are long gone, the article states. Alongside regular flights from Germany, every Sunday two charter flights come from Moscow to Sármellék where the derelict Soviet air base has been converted into a small commercial airport. The influx of Russian tourists to Héviz got a boost in 2010 when the 'Arab Spring' protests scared tourists away from destinations such as Egypt, said László Konnyid, manager of a four-star hotel, which operates with room occupancy rates at 75% all year around, well above the national average. "We like the Russians for many reasons but why we value them especially is that they cherish the traditional medical treatment ... in Heviz that was developed after 1769 by local doctors," he said. The spa town, with a population of 5,000, recorded more than one million guest nights last year which made it the second most visited destination in Hungary after the capital Budapest. In ex-communist eastern Europe, Russian tourists have also rediscovered Bulgaria with the number of visitors there rising 31% last year to almost 600,000. In the last quarter of 2012, the number of Russian tourists to the Czech Republic jumped by 24% to 173,000 and they are now the second biggest group behind the Germans.

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