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Number of foreign visitors to Hungary drop 1.8% to 39.9 mln in 2010

The number of foreign visitors in Hungary was down 1.8% at 39.90m in 2010, and the number of Hungarians travelling abroad fell 3.5% to 16.31m, the Central Statistical Office (KSH) said.

In the fourth quarter of 2010 alone the number of foreign visitors to Hungary rose 1.9% from the same period of last year to 8.77m. The number of Hungarians travelling abroad also rose, by 3.4% yr/yr in the last quarter, to 3.84m.

The number of foreign visitors rose yr/yr for the first time since Q4 2009 and the number of Hungarians travelling abroad rose for the first time since Q2 2009.

Hungary's tourism surplus rose 24.2% to HUF 532 billion in 2010 as spending by foreign tourists (tourism exports) fell 0.8% to HUF 1,190 billion and Hungarians' spending abroad fell a sharp 14.7% in forint terms to 658 billion. HUF 828 billion or 70% of the amount spent by foreign visitors in Hungary was related to tourism consumption. Of tourism imports, HUF 320 billion or 63% was related to tourism.

Foreign visitors spending fell in forint terms for the first time since 2007 and the drop in spending of Hungarians abroad was the first one registered since 2006.

Hungary's tourism surplus was HUF 110 billion in the fourth quarter, up 4.9% from the same period of 2009, resulting from a 1.9% drop of tourism export revenues, to HUF 258 billion and a 6.4% drop of tourism imports, to HUF 148 billion.

The Q4 drop in the spending by foreign tourist was the third drop experienced since 2007; the other two quarters with such a drop were Q4 2009 and Q1 2010

Reflecting the fiscal tightening following the 2008 crisis, spending by Hungarians abroad has been down yr/yr each quarter starting Q3 2009 except for a slight 0.4% rise in Q3 2010.

The forint-term figures were affected by exchange rate movements, among which the forint on average weakened 1.8% against the euro in Q4 2010 from the same period of the previous year, but on average was 1.8% firmer in 2010 than in 2009.

Foreign visitors spent a total of 95.7 million days in Hungary last year, and 76.2% of them paid one-day visits. The number of one-day foreign visitors fell, by 3.7% last year, in a change of previous trends.

The average length of stay for foreign visitors in Hungary dropped to 2.3 days in Q4 from 2.5 days in the previous two quarters, and the 2010 average of 2.4 days was unchanged from 2009.

The foreign visitors, spending more than one day in Hungary, spent on average 6.2 days in Q4, less than in the previous two quarters, and spent an average 6.9 days last year, down from 7.2 days in 2009. Most of them came as before from Germany and Austria.

Those spending several days in Hungary spent 45% of all expenditure on accommodation and catering, 10% on transportation, 4% on fuel and 8% on food and beverages, KSH said.

German visitors spent the most, HUF 239 billion or 20% of foreign visitors' total, and those spending more than HUF 50 billion last year included those arriving from Austria, Romania and the US.

Hungarian travelers stayed on average 4.3 days abroad in the fourth quarter, less than 4.5 days one year earlier, and the 2010 average of 4.4 days was also down from 4.9 days in 2009.

66.2% of the Hungarians travelling abroad were one-day visitors, and 53% of them went on shopping tours. Tourism was the motive in the case of 28% one-day visits and in 84% of longer trips. Official trips made up 17% of one-day travels and 13% of several-day visits of Hungarians abroad.