Interview to Anna Nemeth, Deputy CEO for Marketing and Sales at Hungarian Tourism Agency
1. How would you describe the current situation of tourism in Hungary?
In the past few years we have seen a growth in the number of tourists from all over the world with Budapest getting particularly popular, but countryside destinations are increasingly being visited by more people. We are really proud of our achievements and we aim to continue increasing the numbers of visitors.
Last year the Hungarian Tourism Agency launched Hungary’s new tourism brand: WOW Hungary, which stands for the Wellspring of Wonders – Hungary.
As part of the integrated communication campaign, the Hungarian Tourism Agency advertised in 13 countries (Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, China, USA, France, Canada). Besides country-specific media platforms, we also cooperated with global media partners such as National Geographic and Expedia.
In 2018, in addition to the WOW Hungary campaign, the Hungarian Tourism Agency also launched the Spice of Europe brand promoting Budapest and its surroundings. The first cycle of the campaign, which ran in spring, reached over 95 million people in 10 countries in cooperation with CNN, VICE, and multiple airlines amongst others. The goal was to reposition Budapest and showcase all the diverse, top-quality possibilities that the city has to offer. The second cycle ran in autumn, it included multiple international partnerships and a unique cooperation; a videoclip for the song Close to me by Ellie Goulding.
2. What makes Hungary a great place to visit?
Numerous beautiful sights to visit and plenty of activities to do is just the starting point. Hungary is a unique place, located in the middle of Europe it has more thermal water springs than any other country on the continent. A country that’s landlocked, yet still deserves the nickname ’Land of waters’ and possesses the largest biologically active thermal lake in the world (Hévíz). While we are proud of our thermal bath culture, it also makes us happy that visitors often recommend to their friends to visit one of the thermal baths or spa hotels in Budapest or outside of the capital. The great variety of spas range from the traditional Turkish baths to modern bathing complexes, so everyone will find something suitable.
Hungary is a land where people’s hospitality and love for food make eating out an enjoyable experience. Creative recipes, quality ingredients, and friendly service meet in the country’s gastronomy, offering a vivid fusion of authentic and modern meals. Budapest is in a state of perpetual gastro revolution, which keeps the wealth of tradition alive, while chefs who have learned their craft from the best in the international field are always looking to put their own spin on dishes, converting a traditional weekend family meal into a fine dining experience. Make sure you try the authentic Hungarian goulash, a hearty soup with paprika, onion and beef cubes stewed with vegetables in a big cauldron!
We are proud to have six Michelin-starred restaurants in Budapest, one of which holds two stars – an outstanding performance in the Central European region.
3. What would you recommend to visit in Hungary beyond Budapest?
There are various exciting ways to discover Hungary’s most beautiful sceneries: hiking, riding a bicycle, on horseback, by boat or even from the air. No matter which way of travelling is chosen, discovering a different side of nature each time is a given element. Exciting hiking trails, narrow-gauge train rides, adventure parks, majestic lakes with bike paths around them – these are only some of the unforgettable experiences that await everyone who travels to Hungary.
Besides active tourism, one can also find gems in the countryside: such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pécs or the Archabbey of Pannonhalma.
In addition, the country is home to a wide spectrum of outstanding wines. Hungary is famous for such specialties as the Tokaji Aszú. However, not many people know that the country has 22 wine-growing sub-regions with countless small cellars where visitors can taste the selection of locally produced delicacies and a few wineries where it is even possible to blend their own cuvée wines. These wineries are run by a new generation of wine growers who mix traditional viticulture and modern technology in their production process, which results in excellent quality wines from locations like Lake Balaton, Eger, Tokaj, Szekszárd or Villány for instance.