Is government enthusiasm for tourist industry realistic?
After enjoying a record-level amount of tourism revenue in 2012, the government expects to break that mark this year, thanks to a projected potential 8% increase in guest nights to 24 million. Nándor Csepreghy, deputy state secretary in charge of development, credited the HUF 150 billion expended from the New Széchényi Plan into 600-plus development projects directly or indirectly in support of the tourism industry, including infrastructure work in hotels, spas and heritage sites.
Hungary’s growth in the sector reflects a trending in international tourism away from traditional destinations into more “developing nation” sites. The recently-released advance version of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer report, shows the Central/East European Region to have shown the second-most year-on-year cumulative growth in the world in the past six quarters, behind only South East Asia. Quarter two results for 2013 show an 8.0% y.o.y. increase.
The European Tourist Commission’s quarterly report for March to June 2013 cited Hungary as the continent’s sixth-fastest growing destination, at 7% growth y.o.y.
Over HUF 1.2 trillion in revenue was produced by the tourism industry last year, representing 7% of Hungarian GDP for 2012; Csepreghy stated earlier this week that current plans call for an increase in industry volume to up to 18% of GDP “in the coming years.”
While devotion to tourism industry infrastructure development is admirable and the recent success of Hungarian tourist destinations is notable, Csepreghy’s projection seems like something of a reach. At such a figure, Hungary’s tourism income would compare to those of Jamaica (at 18.29% of national GDP as of 2005) and Cape Verde (17.71%) while outdoing European leaders Croatia (14.7% as of 2011) and Malta (14.0%).
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