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Working towards a healthier economy

Hungary’s tourism profile is to be reformed and the health industry made a key part of the country’s tourism strategy. The year 2011 will be dedicated to health tourism, said economy minister György Matolcsy, at a conference held July 16. He added that in the long term, tourism should be handled as part of a wider economic development program.

The economic ministry invited businessmen to the conference, held in Parliament, and asked for ideas to help guide the future strategy. Those attending agreed that ‘health tourism’ would likely cover Hungary’s spas, dental services and cuisine.

The latter area is expected to be especially welcomed by the catering industry, which has long called for gastronomy to receive a strategic place within tourism alongside an overhaul of the industry’s regulations.

“Gastronomy could be perfectly attached to this health topic, which can greatly improve the Hungarian catering market,” Gyula Berkes, owner of the 15-year-old Biarritz restaurant, told the Budapest Business Journal. However Berkes, one of the presenters at the conference, agreed that quality remains the main problem for domestic gastronomy.

He suggests an extensive reform of raw materials, which should be “locally grown, organic and strictly controlled.” This would, he believes, also improve export-import rates and support domestic small-scale farmers’ reform, issues covered in the government’s 29 points. (BBJ)