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Magyar Turizmus to focus on domestic, regional tourism in 2009

State tourism agency Magyar Turizmus (MT) will focus on domestic tourism and increasing the number of tourists visiting Hungary from neighboring countries in 2009, MT Marketing Director Balázs Szűcs said.

Magyar Turizmus Chairman Ákos Niklai said that strengthening cooperation within the tourist industry, concentration of resources toward the promotion of tourism within Europe and maintenance of marketing activities at their present level with regard to non-European destinations are also among the organization's 2009 objectives. Niklai added that MT furthermore intends to intensify cooperation with airlines and to increase the number of visitors arriving to Hungary via bus and train in 2009.

MT CEO Iván Róna said that the organization has outlined three priorities for the next three years - improving Hungary's image, raising tourism revenue and reducing the territorial and seasonal concentration of tourism.

Róna noted that MT expects that hotel and accommodation turnover stemming from both foreign and domestic tourism will stagnate in Hungary next year, while over the following two years the number of tourists will increase 3%-4%, the number of guest nights will increase 1%-2% and turnover will rise 3%-4% per year. MT estimates that foreign turnover at private accommodations in Hungary will increase by 5%-7% in the next three years and that domestic turnover will rise by 10%-12% at such accommodations in that time.

The data of the central bank (MNB) show that Hungary recorded a tourism surplus of €1.3 billion in 2007 and €619 million in the first half of 2008.

Róna said that MT will have access to approximately HUF 5 billion in state funds in 2009, similar to the sum available in 2008.

Niklai remarked that an expected decrease in real wages in 2009 could have a negative impact on tourism revenue, though this decline could also serve to increase the popularity of less costly domestic tourism destinations. Foreign tourists are likely to stay closer to home next year, while the average duration of tourist visits and expenditures are likely to decline.

Niklai said that a resolution of the current strike at Budapest Ferihegy International Airport is of key importance to the tourism industry. The MT chairman noted that if the strike results in the loss of just 1,000 tourists, this would cost the Hungarian tourism industry some HUF 200 million in revenue. (MTI – Econews)