September 27th was world tourism day, which is intended to raise awareness of its social, cultural, political and economic importance.
But the industry is going through difficult times with many people being put off travelling by terrorism, and fewer visitors to European countries like France and Belgium after the attacks there.
That is benefiting countries perceived as being safer.
Hungary is one example, as Teodóra Bán, the head of Budapest Festival and Tourism Centre, told Euronews: “Between January and July of this year Budapest has done very well, as a destination. There is a slight improvement from last year, because of what’s happening in the world.”
That built on a big increase in 2015 when Hungary was Europe’s fastest-growing travel destination.
With tourism and related areas accounting for 10 percent of its gross domestic product and 12 percent of the country’s workforce, the government is taking no risks with security, as György Bakond, Chief Security Advisor to the Hungarian Prime Minister, explained: “The Hungarian parliament has increased the number of police officers, set up a counter-terrorism information and analysis centre, the Hungarian army can also be deployed to fight against terrorists. So we have done everything we can to make Hungary a safe country.”
Following Islamist extremist attacks, there has been a notable fall off in US and Asian visitors to Europe, but one Taiwanese tourist near Buda Castle told us she had no qualms about visiting Hungary: “I came from Taiwan and I came to travel. This place I’ve heard my friends had come here and they say the food is good and it is very beautiful, so I came here, too.”
Last year the number of foreign tourists arriving in Hungary rose by nearly 20 percent.
This year Eastern Europe, including Hungary itself, is providing many of the tourists with big increases in visitors from the Czech Republic (27 percent) and Slovakia (29 percent) along with Germany and Poland, Britain and the US which saw rises of between 4.1 percent and 5.6 percent.
Euronews Budapest Business reporter Asboth Beatrix concludes: “This year there is a slight change among those visiting Budapest. The number of foreign tourists has not grown so fast, but among them there were more from Asia. And the number of Hungarian visitors to the capital is up by 13 percent.”