Saturday,  August 24, 2019  11:30 am

Beyond Budapest: Why your clients should choose Hungary this spring

Beyond Budapest: Why your clients should choose Hungary this spring
(From left): Mariann Demeter-Pinter, economic and trade counsellor at Consulate General of Hungary, Toronto; Consul General of Hungary Valer Palkovits; Zsuzsanna Sarmon, regional head of business development, North America, Hungarian National Tourist Office in New York; Dora Meszaros, Hungarian Tourism Agency.
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch:

Slide into a thermal spring. Sip on the sweet nectar of a glass Tokaji Aszu wine. Spend the day at a castle, or walk the grounds of a palace.

Hungary is ready to show the world all of the treasures that lie beyond the city limits of Budapest, which include a destination that’s known for its world-famous wineries, farm-to-table gastronomical experiences, and even medical tourism.

“When people come to Hungary, they usually stay in Budapest for a few days, but they don’t go beyond to explore the authentic part of the country,” said Zsuzsanna Sarmon, regional head of business development, North America at Hungarian Tourism Agency.

Last night (Jan. 22), the Hungarian Tourism Agency, joined by the Consul General of Hungary, Valer Palkovits, stopped by in Toronto to share the latest news with approximately 70 suppliers, members of the media, and travel agents, who play a huge role in helping travel to Hungary take off this spring.

The aim of the agent

Hungary is teeming with unique experiences and picturesque beauty, but given the ease of connectivity throughout Western Europe, it’s often overlooked as a vacation destination.

Located in the heart of Europe, Hungary is actually incredibly accessible and can be reached from any major city or any of its border countries in just a few hours, by plane or by train, making it a great country to explore in combination, say, via a river cruise.

Air Canada Rouge currently offers direct flights from Toronto to Budapest. Additionally, travelers can find connections out of Chicago and New York on LOT Polish Airlines or on American Airlines from Philadelphia. Big hubs out of Munich, Frankfurt, or Paris also offer incredible accessibility from Europe.

It’s getting more Canadians into Hungary that the tourism board needs help with.

So, why should your clients consider snuggling up to Hungary this spring, rather than get cozy with Austria, Germany, or even Croatia?

Sarmon says it all comes down to incredible value.

Consul General of Hungary Valer Palkovits

Hungary: Dollars go further here

Canada is one of the largest source markets for Hungary, after the UK, Germany, and the U.S. in terms of travellers and the number of room nights. Germans tend to spend the most amount, which is partly due to Hungary being a quick hop across the border.

Canadians, on the other hand, tend to reserve the majority of their spend for hotels and high-end restaurants, and that’s something agents should keep in mind. Essentially, Canadians are open to spending if it means they get to try the finest things Hungary has to offer, from Michelin-star meals to luxury hotels, and they love taking advantage of tours and excursions.

“All of Hungary is a great value for your money, compared to Western Europe, you’ll get a lot more for your money, and our service is comparable to other five-star destinations,” Sarmon said.

Getting to know Hungary

Unlike its western counterparts, Hungary isn’t overrun by mass tourism, but at the same time, it’s got all of the picturesque cobblestone streets, cathedrals, and history North Americans love about Europe.

For these reasons, it’s the perfect place to fly into directly, or, explore as part of a pre- or post-cruise. Crystal Cruises currently offers a number of various trips through Hungary, including the Luxury Eastern Danube River Cruise to Hungary aboard the Crystal Ravel, where travellers start and end in Vienna, Austria while making a stop in Budapest.

There are unlimited possibilities for experiential travel in Hungary, from exploring the Tokaj wine region to planning a day trip Lake Balaton, the biggest lake in central Europe, popular year-round for swimming and sailing.

Though most tour operators currently only offer travel to Budapest, some house names, like Kensington Tours, have started to craft itineraries throughout the whole country. The Hungarian Tourism Agency is currently in talks with other tour operators in order to get more product on the market for Canadian agents to sell.

“The new direct lights from North America provided by Air Canada Rouge and LOT also proves that Eastern Europe is an up-and-coming destination, one that’s easier to reach and discover,” Consul General Valer Palkovits concluded.

Agents are invited to visit to learn more about Hungary.