Budapest, Hungary – The number of Chinese tourists visiting Hungary reached an all-time high in 2019, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
Record number of Chinese tourists in Hungary in 2019
More than 277,000 Chinese tourists visited Hungary last year, an 8% increase compared to the previous year, the director of China’s National Tourist Office in Budapest Cui Ke announced.
They spent a total of 455,000 nights in the Central European country.
In 2018, Chinese tourism in Hungary exceeded for the first time the quarter million mark. That same year, a dozen Hungarian visa offices were opened throughout China.
Bilateral tourism between the two countries was boosted last year by the launch of four new direct flight services between Budapest and the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Xi’an, Chengdu and Chongqing, bringing the total number of direct air routes to five.
China and Hungary celebrated in 2019 the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has been keen to strengthen ties with the world’s second-largest economy since coming to power, has come under criticism at home for his pro-China policy which, according to experts, has failed to yield any tangible results all the while turning a blind eye to Beijing’s poor record on human rights and the rule of law.
Hungary’s tourism sector in turmoil over Covid-19 pandemic
Unsurprisingly, the number of tourists from China, or from any other country for that matter, is expected to take a nose-dive in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While Hungary should fall into recession this year according to the latest economic projections, the tourism sector may be one of the sectors hit hardest by the viral outbreak and ensuing lockdowns. A number of businesses in the hospitality sector have already announced personnel reduction plans and said they might have to lay-off more than half of their workforce.
“Once the panic situation is past its peak, the Hungarian Tourism Agency (MTU) will embark on intensive international campaigns”, its president Zoltan Guller said. “According to international experience, it takes about 10 months for traffic in the sector to recover”.
In the meantime, authorities are expected to target Hungarians to urge them to travel at home this summer and support the domestic tourism sector in these times of crisis.
“The [MTU] agency is sending a message to Hungarians that no one will give up hope, because together we will successfully overcome the current situation and set off again for the wonderful domestic destinations. But now, the most important thing is to take care of each other”, MTU head Zoltan Guller commented.
Main photo credit: VITALYEDUSH/VITALYEDUSH via The Telegraph