Budapest Builds for a Bright Tourism Future

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BUDAPEST, Hungary--Hungary's capital is undergoing significant changes in infrastructure, including hotel renovations and the expansion of its international airport, officials at Welcome to Hungaria, the country's annual incoming tourism workshop, said here.

Ferihegy Airport's Terminal 2 will be expanded in September to make it the main terminal for international carriers, said Istavan Meggyes, director general of the Hungarian National Tourist Office here. The modern facility is served only by Malev-Hungarian and a few international carriers; other international flights arrive at Terminal 1. Financial details on the expansion were not available.

On the hotel front, the Atrium Hyatt completed the second phase of its $10 million reconstruction program, which included the refurbishment of its 310 rooms and lobby. The final phase, to be completed by next spring, will consist of renovating its two restaurants.

Three hotels owned by Danubius, Hungary's largest hotel company, also are poised for renovations, according to a spokesman for the chain:

  • The Hotel Gellert, a historic turn-of the-century property, is planning to begin a $9 million renovation. Its launch has been delayed by the hotel's dispute with the neighboring Gellert Spa, which is seeking renovation funds from Danubius.
  • The firm also intends to spend $1.5 million upgrading 100 of the Hilton Hotel's 322 rooms next year, the beginning of a much larger renovation.
  • The Hotel Astoria, also owned by Danubius and the only other major historic Budapest hotel built in the Art Nouveau style, is also awaiting Danubius and city approval to complete a major overhaul by next year. One floor has already been transformed with rooms redesigned in keeping the the original early 20th century style of the hotel.
  • Meanwhile, tourist office director Meggyes lauded the 10% increase in Americans traveling to Hungary last year--289,000--but also addressed a 19% decrease in overall international arrivals. "The main decrease was from the former Eastern Bloc countries, where economies are growing and people seek to travel outside of the region," he said.

    To raise interest in Hungary, the tourism office has opened satellites in 19 countries, 80% of which were opened in the last two years, Meggyes said.

    Something Budapest desperately needs is a major congress center, Meggyes added, and the city is seeking tenders from development companies to build a 3,000-seat facility.

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