Budapest » Hotels Target Winter Invasion
Hotels Target Winter Invasion
By Robin Marshall
MOST of Budapest»s five- and four-star hotels have joined the National Tourist Board, Budapest Tourist Office, Budapest Airport, MALÉV Hungarian Airlines and the Hungarian Hotel Association in launching and promoting the Budapest Winter Invasion campaign, aimed at attracting more tourists to the capital during the low season.
In total some 55 hotels are involved, including much of the Accor-Pannonia Hotels and the Danubius Hotels groups.
Adrian Gray, General Manager of Le Meridien Budapest, headed the committee of five-star GMs who initially pushed for the initiative.
“We have had a good run in Budapest with the accession to Europe and the introduction of the low cost airlines,” he explained.
“There was a feeling that we were coming off the crest and, as always, it is easier to maintain the interest from a high position when we still have money to invest.
“Our predictions were correct ,with a subsequent drop in occupancy across the hotels in the ensuing months.” The promotion, which runs from Dec 1, 2006, until March 31, 2007, encourages tourists to fly MALÉV and buy three nights» bed and breakfast accommodation. For doing so, they get a fourth night free.
The campaign carries the tag line “Everyone stays in Budapest longer than planned: the Romans for 400 years, Ottomans for 150 years, Soviets for 45 years, you, for one extra night free.”
Falling in Love
According to the publicity, the organizers say, “We give you an extra night free to stay longer because you will fall in love with this exciting and entertaining city.”
It has long been a complaint of the five-star hoteliers, in particular, that Budapest does not do enough to promote itself during the winter.
While Vienna is packed, they have long moaned, and beds are almost impossible to find, Budapest has plenty of spare capacity.
But Gray said the two tourist boards recognized the need for something to be done.
“It has been a challenge to get everyone working together, but we have a common goal, and both the Hungarian Tourism Office and Budapest Tourism Office were quick to join this project as key partners,” he said.
A website has thus been set up to back the scheme, including a list of attractions during the period, such as the Christmas markets (Nov 25 - Dec 24); the Vincent Van Gogh exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts (Dec 1 - Mar 20); the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with pianist Lang Lang and conductor Daniel Barenboim in the Palace of Arts (Feb 19); and the 27th Budapest Spring Festival (Mar 16 – Apr 1).
Promotion of the offer began in September and will continue through until February, involving visits to some 55 tourism fairs in Europe.
The recent political events, and last week»s riots, send a damaging image to potential tourists, of course, but Gray said energy should now be channeled forward.
“Obviously last week»s events are a challenge, but we must not cry about the past, but rather encourage actions for the future, to show Budapest in a positive light extensively to the international audience and restore confidence to the destination.
“Only the government has the funds necessary to achieve this,” he added.
The Budapest Sun, October 19, 2006