2011 EU-presidency in Budapest

2011 EU-presidency in BudapestIt is the dream of every city to be able to host an event that fills up restaurants, hotels and other such places of catering with well-off customers. Others will go as far as paying billions of dollars or euros to get this and now we have such an opportunity delivered to use on a plate. Thanks to the rotation usual in the European Union, Hungary will be the president of the EU in the first half of 2011, therefore Budapest will become the capital of the Union. What is very important is that all of this, besides the direct profit it will bring, also provides us with some long-term opportunities as well.

For all events held in Budapest (Formula 1, swimming championships, Sziget Festival, etc.), the association of hotels examines the performance of the hotels in Budapest in connection to the given event. Every time an event like this is held, the hotels always report an increase of 20-30 percent in occupation of rooms and realised average price, which also underlines the importance of such big international events. Therefore, it is also very significant that during our half-year presidency we will be one of the primary subjects of international interest.

Since many business delegations will also visit the country during the presidency, while the city will also be the seat of high level politicians, there will be no shortage of well paying guests. Besides the usual programs, many additional programs will be held too. Such events provide a revenue much like the also highly profitable conference tourism, of which there wasn’t a lot in Budapest during the past years. Finally there will again be days like the ones that last occurred years ago, at the peak of the Forma 1 hype: you can put a “no vacancy” sign on the city. In successful metropolises this is common. Besides improving our image, this is also of eminent importance for Budapest, a city that has lost tourism in the past few years, because in the Hungarian capital - partly due to the opening of new hotels - today average hotel room prices have decreased significantly. While an average room costs 91 euros in Vienna and 74 in Prague, in Budapest this price is only 62 euros.

The market is slowly getting back on its feet and though there are more guests than last year, prices are still lower. The credit crunch is not exactly over yet, we need at least another 3-5 years to get back to the level of 2008. In addition, Hungary is still not known in the world very well. That is another reason why the presidency is a great opportunity for this country to have its name in good light in the press. Especially because unfortunately Hungary has been the subject of many extremely unfavourable political and economic news items recently. Although from May a little more tourists have arrived to Budapest, - despite a slight increase in turnover - any increase in business tourism is yet to be seen. EU presidency is a little bit like European Football Championships. It will surely bring positive things to the city, mostly due to the business it brings, the effect of which will be felt after the event as well - before it slowly subsides. How long this effect will last and how long we will be able to keep the international public interested with new attractions and messages is up to us.

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