- miniszterelnok.hu - https://www.miniszterelnok.hu/prime-minister-viktor-orbans-address-at-the-tourism-summit-2018-conference/ -

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s address at the “Tourism Summit 2018” conference

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank the organisers for staging this conference again this year. You are doing Hungary a great service. I also wish to thank you for inviting me here again.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I had good reason to accept your invitation: everyone, myself included, is happy to attend events where Hungarian achievements are celebrated, and successful Hungarians are presented with awards. While this is called a conference, and it certainly is in terms of content, above all we are here to acknowledge the professionals who, with their talent and hard work, have contributed to Hungary’s many successes. To my mind – and you also gave me the opportunity to point this out last year – in tourism a successful entrepreneur is by definition a patriot, as tourism is a livelihood which embodies patriotism. Your outstanding achievements are also important for us because for a long time we felt a lack of purely Hungarian successes. There was a period in our history when being successful was simply forbidden, and there was also a period when building up a business from one’s own talent and strength was presented as something shameful. Members of the older generations may remember how in the era before 1990 there was an ambivalent hatred and envy of the world of the self-employed. I am telling the younger ones here that this was the system we had to dismantle in 1990, in order to rebuild the Hungarian economy from its very foundations. For a long time after the fall of communism, however, we were unable to gain in strength: in fact we drifted towards debt slavery, and simply did not have the stamina to create our own successes. Then In 2010 the Hungarian people said that they had had enough of this. Everyone knows the story since then: the story which continues today, and which has changed Hungary.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For you who work in tourism it is important to have the courage to say that today Hungary is a strong country – not quite as strong as we would like it to be, but there is no doubt that whoever looks at us sees a country which is capable of achievements greater than those suggested by its size. And ever more people are interested in finding out about us. They grant us recognition, and one of the reasons – one of the important reasons – for this is that there are young ambitious Hungarian entrepreneurs who are successful abroad as well as here at home. As we in the Government sometimes jokingly say: there are Hungarians who are also world famous outside Hungary. Thanks to our economic achievements, today we have not only the freedom but the strength to also rebuild everything we can in tourism. Many of you have also gained experience abroad. In Hungarian domestic politics there is a debate about this. I believe that that this is all for the good. I would like to encourage young Hungarians working in this professional area to be bold, to learn and to gain experience. All I ask of you is that in your minds and in your hearts you always retain the knowledge that you have a country, a safe haven to which you can always return home, and where you can turn to your advantage everything that you have learnt. We are also happy if here at home you pass on the knowledge you’ve acquired abroad. In this you can count on the Government, and also on me personally.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you know, Hungary is deeply involved in the debates about the future of Europe. There are two camps: pro-immigration federalists and anti-immigration national forces. You surely know that Hungary is one of those countries which seek to preserve their cultural heritage and their way of life, along with their freedom and independence. We want to remain who we have been up to now. We want Europe to be able to be proud of its values and to defend them, and we want Hungary to remain a Hungarian country. Here I need to briefly tell you about this, because in a fragile sector like tourism, the character and direction of change in the world surrounding Hungary is by no means unimportant. And let us recognise the importance of being able to actively shape events, rather than just passively accepting what is happening around us and happening to us. Naturally the attention we are receiving has its downside. But only unsuccessful countries are without adversaries, as they are irrelevant. Those who are active, who are making progress, who are gaining in strength, are competitors who arouse interest and passion – and who must be taken seriously. After all, the old Hungarian proverb is true: there is no rose without a thorn.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The spotlight being directed on us is encouraging ever more people to come to Hungary. We must turn this to our advantage; first and foremost, you are the ones who must turn this to our advantage. At the end of the day, tourism is about convincing the sons and daughters of other nations to visit us, to see for themselves who we are, where we live and how we live. And you, Ladies and Gentlemen – the people who spend most time with foreign guests coming here – can do much to ensure that they not only have a good time here, but that they also return to us. If we are successful and strong, we will also do well in tourism; if we are weak and boring, not a soul will be interested in us.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Weakness in a country is clearly visible: dilapidated buildings, streets in disrepair, deteriorating public security and – in the worst cases – acts of terrorism. By contrast, in Hungary tourism is one of the national economy’s most successful sectors because Hungary is one of the safest countries in Europe. Here there are no terrorist attacks and no-go areas do not exist. There are, however, friendly and hospitable people. Things are finally beginning to change for the better, and this is also confirmed by the tourism figures. A little over 10 per cent of our gross domestic product is derived from the direct and indirect branches of tourism, which provide work for 400,000 Hungarian people and help to support their families. If I correctly interpreted your analyses, 2017 was the best year ever, and this year promises to deliver similar results – or even better. And finally we also have world-famous success stories: Laposa Wine Estate, Sziget Festival, the Nanushka fashion brand, Michelin-starred restaurants and international sporting events. We will need many more of these. I see your results as confirmation that it is worth supporting this sector, and it is worth supporting businesses active in tourism. You know only too well that there is never enough money; we always need more funding and more developments than we can afford. There is fierce competition for funds, the Government is faced with competing demands for funds, and we need to hear arguments in order to make the right decisions on the distribution of those funds. You have one decisive argument in your favour: the success that you’ve already achieved. This is why this year we’ve provided record funding, and – God willing and if we are still alive – we shall provide even more next year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is a joint plan shared by you in the business of tourism and us in government. We would like Hungarian tourism’s total contribution to GDP to increase from its present level of 10 per cent to 16 per cent by 2030. We have priority regions. Budapest is our flagship: the country cannot be successful without the nation’s capital. I will not deliver a lecture, as you know the facts only too well: Ludovika, the Castle Garden Bazaar, the Music Academy, and so on. Indeed we have even more plans – which are imposing, and in part astonishingly bold. Developments worth many hundreds of billions of forints await decisions from the Budapest Development Council: the Opera House, the Buda Castle District, and the list goes on.

But, Ladies and Gentlemen, flagship or no flagship, the country is more than Budapest alone. We also need the provinces, and now we must also give them a chance. There are hundreds of places outside Budapest that we can be proud of. It is also my personal ambition to see to it that, within ten to fifteen years, at least as many people want to see the Hungarian countryside as want to see our cities: Lake Balaton; Lake Fertő; the hinterland of the Southern Great Plain; Tokaj; the Danube Bend; networks of cycle routes. The goal is to connect every single corner of Hungary to the bloodstream of tourism; and the role of capillaries is as essential as that of arteries. We must further strengthen domestic tourism to around 50 per cent: for every foreign visitor there should be at least one Hungarian tourist.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We expect you to show our treasures to every Hungarian, to show our Hungarian achievements to every Hungarian. Show them the many things we can be proud of. And, in general, show Hungary to the Hungarian people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finally, allow me to again congratulate the winners of the Pro Turismo awards. We are proud of you. May you continue to achieve success. An entire country is rooting for you.

Go for it Hungary, go for it Hungarians!