For the Hungarian people tourism is an expression of patriotism, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Monday in the Castle Garden Bazaar in Budapest, at the Tourism Summit 2019 conference organised by the Hungarian Tourism Agency.

“We are proud of our country, we are surrounded by history, we live in it, and our life is also a continuation of Hungary’s fantastic culture and civilisation,” the Prime Minister stated.

He said “the more we love our country, the more the world will want to see us”. As a result, “our love for our country” will also manifest itself in guest nights, jobs, increasing wages and increasing business profits, Mr Orbán stressed.

Speaking about global tourism, the Prime Minister highlighted that the global growth of tourism is continuing, and the change in travel patterns, the strengthening of city tourism is favouring Hungary. Since 2010 the number of guests coming to Hungary as well as the number of guest nights have doubled, he said.

He said it is further good news that the costs of long-distance travel are decreasing, and there are ever more tourists coming from Asia to Europe. In this competition, Hungary is in an excellent position which is thanks, among others, to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó and central bank governor György Matolcsy as they were the “founding fathers” of the policy of easterly opening, he added. He highlighted that economic and diplomatic relations with the East are strengthening, and Hungary has become a positively recommended, friendly destination. Additionally, in this respect, public security is a prominent factor in which Hungary renders a performance above average, he said.

Mr Orbán also said the economic policy innovations “which have brought about shiny results” are being kept in place: the proportionate, flat-rate tax regime, family tax benefits and the cafeteria SZÉP card (offering travel, health care and sports services to workers) are all staying, while they would like to extend the range of family tax benefits even further.

He highlighted that the goal is to turn Hungary into a sports, gastronomy and conference tourism centre. “As regards Budapest, I can see some uncertainty at this point, but whichever turn things will take, on a national scale we will not be turning back, we will continue the work of country-building,” the Prime Minister stated.

He also pointed out that in five years the number of cities that can be reached from Budapest via direct flights had increased from 86 to 147. This trend must continue, and must remain a top priority in the work of Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, he added. He mentioned as an example that the first direct flight from Kazan, Russia will arrive soon.

Finally, the Prime Minister said “with our performance in the department of tourism, we are there, breathing down the necks of Prague and the Czech Republic, and we will soon catch up with them”. It is worth looking for another target; it is time to start “the siege of Austria and Vienna,” Mr Orbán said.