Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much for the invitation to be here today. Without exception you’re all tourism experts, and you’re primarily interested in the future of your work, your profession and your industry. No one knows the details better than you, so I don’t need to talk about them. Perhaps all I need to say is that since 2010 the chronology of governance has been different from the chronology of tourism – which is perhaps understandable. So since 2010 both the number of tourists arriving in Hungary and the number of tourist-nights have doubled. I won’t go into all the details, but there are perhaps some things that I should tell you. These are broader interrelationships that have a strong influence on your work. What are the broader interrelationships that will influence the opportunities for the Hungarian tourism industry, and how will they develop in the future? This is what I would like to say a few words about.
First of all, I can bring you good news on the direction of tourism’s global development. Our analyses show that the global growth of tourism is continuing. A change in consumer habits is also favouring Hungary, as we can see that in the future younger generations will increasingly continue to seek to acquire new experiences instead of possessing physical goods. The change in travel habits is also favouring Hungary, because we see a growth in short, repeated journeys, which favour city tourism: an area in which we Hungarians are especially strong. It’s also good news that globally the costs of long-distance travel will continue to fall. In the future ever larger numbers of people will be able to afford international journeys. I can also tell you that in the years ahead the rise of the global middle classes will continue. Consequently, there will be increasing demand for travel from Asia to Europe. In this competition our position is excellent, thanks in part to the founding fathers of the policy of eastward opening: Péter Szijjártó (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and György Matolcsy (Governor of the Hungarian National Bank and former Minister for National Economy). In this direction economic and diplomatic relations are strengthening, and Hungary has become a strongly recommended, friendly destination. Furthermore, public safety plays a prominent role in this, and this is an area in which Hungary’s performance is above average. Perhaps the most important good news for you, and for me, is that we’ll be able to maintain the income growth of the past few years. We now have 800,000 more new workers than in 2010, and net real earnings have increased by 41 per cent. I can assure you that the economic policy innovations that have brought such glowing results will remain in place. The proportionate, flat-rate tax system, the SZÉP cafeteria card and family tax allowances – which we would like to develop even further – are all here to stay. The development of historical and cultural centres implemented from government funds will also continue. Our ambitious plan to expand Hungary into a tourism centre for sport, gastronomy and conferences continues to stand. I now see some uncertainty as regards Budapest, but however things turn out, on a national scale we shall not turn back, and we shall continue the work of building up the country. And finally there is also the promising news that we can preserve our high ranking in the competition among destinations which are good value for money. Budapest is in the top third of the rankings of the largest tourism destinations in terms of value for money as expressed in dollars. I hope that we will be able to retain this position. In summary, I can tell you that over the next few years the most important international “megatrends” which favour us will continue. What’s more, we can expect technological development, the wider spread of the platform-based economy, and a fall in transport costs – meaning the removal of obstacles to tourism. Everything we have will gain in value, and so in the coming years our sector will receive an exceptional opportunity.
There’s only one more question I’d like to talk about. What do we need to do in order that we do not to miss this exceptional moment? First of all, I suggest that we assess our opportunities realistically. With our tourism performance, we’re already there, breathing down the necks of Prague and the Czech Republic. Soon we will catch up with them. One should look for new goals and new heights. I believe it is time to start the siege of Austria and Vienna. I know that for the faint-hearted this is too daring, but believe me in tourism there’s no point in setting a lower, more modest goal than this. In the past five years the number of cities that are accessible directly by air from Budapest has risen from 86 to 147. We must continue this. The Foreign Minister himself has been instructed to keep this a high priority in his work. The first direct flight from Kazan will also be arriving soon. The Government has given your sector support totalling 800 billion forints. Today we are at the stage at which the capital recovery rate of a well-run hotel can be better than that of an office block.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
What else should we do? Amidst all this great development, I suggest we don’t forget our starting point, lest we lose our way. Let’s not forget that for Hungarians tourism is also an expression of patriotism. We’re proud of our history, we’re surrounded by history, we live in it, and our life is a continuation of Hungary’s wonderful culture and civilisation. Domestic tourism strengthens our love for our country. This is how and why the country is developing and becoming more beautiful. In Hungary there are currently some one thousand tourism developments under way. This means that a condition of further development is that we open our own country to the hearts of the Hungarian people. And if we do this well, the hearts of the Hungarian people, too, will open to their country, and they will respect and love their native land even more. And the more we love our country, the more the world will want to see us, and, indirectly – however profane this may sound – this love for our country will also manifest itself in guest-nights, jobs, increasing wages and increasing business profits. This is not something we should be ashamed of: quite the reverse. Because while it is true that one shall not live on bread alone, it is also true that one shall not live without bread.
Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve spoken about world economic trends, patriotism and the Government’s intentions, but I mustn’t forget the most important thing. Credit for the development of Hungarian tourism goes to many players, but not in equal proportion. The lion’s share of that credit is due to you. The determining factors are your aptitude, your talent, your dedication and your qualifications. I’d like you to know that the Government of Hungary fully understands this, and therefore values and respects your work. We’re here today to express this, to celebrate you, and to encourage you to continue the work you’ve started. You can count on us, the Government is right behind you. I wish you great success.
Go for it, Hungary, go for it Hungarians!