HTA monthly report: Balaton region was the most popular destination in September as well

Domestic tourists travelled with much the same intensity in the first autumn month as last year, meaning Hungarians continued to keep the accommodation market in motion. Based on the HTA’s analyses, hotels open year-round saw the best results in September in the Balaton region as well, where more than 150 thousand nights were spent, thanks partly to the domestic tourism campaign. As the National Tourism Data Supply Centre (NTDSC) operated by the Hungarian Tourism Agency (HTA) receives statistical data on a daily basis not only from commercial accommodation providers, but also from the entire service sector, including other and private accommodation, the NTDSC data can be used to provide a much more detailed picture of a given period.


September 2020.

The purpose of the HTA campaign, launched at the end of August, was to showcase the great experiences that Hungary has to offer in order to help promote the extension of the tourist season. The series started off by presenting what is on offer for tourists in the autumn by Lake Balaton, including a campaign advertising and promoting the discovery of the whole of Hungary. Extending into mid-October, the campaign series was used to advertise the active tourism on offer in Hungary, the country’s unique natural wonders, what is on offer in the cities, and its architectural heritage and cultural treasures.
The domestic campaigns aimed at increasing traffic also helped contribute to the fact that a total of 695 thousand guests spent nights in Hungarian accommodation in September 2020, of which 640 thousand were Hungarians. The accommodation venues registered a total of 1.8 million overnight stays, 1.5 million of which were spent by Hungarians. This year’s figures for the month of September amounted to 99% of last year’s. 93% of all guests in the previous month travelled to accommodation locations outside of Budapest, where they spent a total of 1.6 million nights. 94% of guests outside of Budapest were Hungarians, and they were responsible for 90% of the overnight stays outside of Budapest.

Hotels were the most popular

Compared to August, there is a significant difference in the breakdown by accommodation type. An important tendency is that hotels were the most popular form of accommodation outside of Budapest in the month of September, where 46% of all overnight stays were spent. Other and private accommodation accounted for another 33%, 9% were spent in bed and breakfasts, and 5% in camp sites.

The increased use of hotels in September is related to the fact that other and private forms of accommodation, responsible for the majority of accommodation by Lake Balaton, are only open seasonally. The more than 14 thousand accommodation providers who were granted support as part of the Kisfaludy Accommodation Development Construction scheme for the development of private and other accommodation launched jointly by the HTA and Kisfaludy2030 Turisztikai Fejlesztő Nonprofit Zrt. start their renovation work after the season closes. More than 5.5 thousand of the winning tenderers are located in the Balaton region.

National overview

Besides the Balaton region, where 25% of all domestic overnight stays were spent last month, Hungarian guests most favoured the Eger region (12%), Greater Budapest (7%), and Debrecen and its surroundings (7%).

Budapest remained the most popular destination for foreigners: 33% (84 thousand) of all overnight stays by foreign tourists were spent in the capital city. Following this, Balaton region and Debrecen and surroundings were most visited by foreign tourists based on guest night numbers. The top 5 countries of origin ranked by the number of nights spent in Hungary were: Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Austria.

In September, 33% of the total of 1.8 million overnight stays were in just 10 places. Based on the figures for last month, Budapest was followed by Hajdúszoboszló and then three Balaton towns: Balatonfüred, Hévíz and Siófok. The remainder of the top 10 towns were Gyula, Zalakaros, Eger, Miskolc and Debrecen. Domestic tourists spent the most nights (80% on average) in all of the cities examined; foreign tourists spent the most nights in Budapest, Debrecen, and Hévíz.

Wine tourism is enjoying increasing popularity

Domestic tourism experienced a surge over the summer as Hungarians looked for new experiences at home, which included events held in wine regions. This tendency continued in the first autumn month: more tourists visited wine regions this year, and wine-related destinations became exceptionally popular.

A total of 314 thousand guests spent 750 thousand nights at 14,000 accommodation sites in Hungary’s 22 wine regions, with Hungarians making up 95% of the guests. The Balatonfüred-Csopak wine region takes first place in the ranking based on the number of nights spent in September, followed by the wine regions of Eger, Balaton-felvidék, Kunság and Bükk. Naturally, guests don’t spend their time exclusively visiting wine cellars when staying in a wine region, as the geographical and cultural features of the area are likewise important when selecting a place to stay. It is therefore no surprise that the 3 most frequented wine regions are located in the Balaton region. The number of visitors to a given wine region and the number of nights they spend there are strongly influenced by the numbers and types of accommodation available in the wine region’s towns, as well as the seasonality of these forms of accommodation.

Lake Balaton

The HTA’s autumn domestic campaign was run from 24 August to 30 September, which focused on the limitless possibilities offered by Lake Balaton. Due in part to the support provided by the intensive TV and social media campaign, Balaton region remained the most popular tourism destination in September as well.

The Balaton region accounted for 23% of all overnight stays spent in Hungary in September. Compared to September of last year, a larger number of domestic guests stayed at the 11,700 accommodation venues in the region, of which 235 are hotels. 153 thousand domestic guests, which is 17% more than last year (131 thousand), spent a total of 378 thousand nights (16% more than last year’s figure of 325 thousand) in September 2020. The season was far from over at Lake Balaton at the end of the summer, however, as most tourists continued to choose the lake as their destination in September as well. A total of 162 thousand guests used the services of accommodation providers in the Balaton region in September and spent a total of 416 thousand nights there. While more than half of the guests stayed at other and private accommodation in August, this trend changed decisively in September.

Daily breakdown of overnight stays in the Balaton region

52% of guests chose accommodation in hotels, 30% in other and private accommodation, 9% at camp sites and 5% at bed and breakfasts. Domestic guests continued to dominate the region in the past month as well: 91% of nights were spent by Hungarians.

The most preferred locations according to the total number of nights spent were, in decreasing order of popularity, Balatonfüred, Siófok, Zalakaros, Hévíz and Cserszegtomaj. Based on the number of nights spent, the top 5 countries of origin were Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.

Foreign guests spent an average of 4.3 days, which is longer than domestic tourists, who devoted 2.5 days to their trips. Domestic guests stayed the longest times in community accommodation, an average of 5.5 days, with Hungarians staying at hotels for 2.4 days on average. Although the most overnight stays were on Fridays and Saturdays, the fact that the average stay in the after-season was longer than 2 days is a good result.


A total of 51 thousand guests visited Budapest in September, registering 189 thousand overnight stays in the NTDSC, 39% of these being spent in hotels. Another 39% were spent in Budapest in other and private forms of accommodation and 18% were spent in community accommodation. In September, the number of domestic guests demonstrably exceeded foreign tourists in Budapest, traditionally frequented by foreigners. 69% of all guests in Budapest were Hungarians, who accounted for 55% of the nights spent. In August, these percentages were reversed: 62% of all guests staying in Budapest were foreigners and they accounted for 64% of overnight stays in the city.


As part of the economic stimulus action plan, the SZÉP Card, considered a driving force of domestic tourism, was made even more advantageous as a fringe benefit by the government in spring. Not only was the total tax burden on the Card decreased by half (to 15%), the maximum amount to be granted was increased from HUF 450 thousand to HUF 800 thousand per year (or 400 thousand in the public sector). In the first nine months of 2020, employers spent a total of HUF 206 bn on the Cards, a 17% increase compared with the same period last year.

Domestic tourists were happy to spend the increased amount: they used SZÉP cards to spend more than HUF 181 bn in the first nine months of the year. This figure represents growth of almost 29% as compared to the identical period in 2019. Just as the Cards were topped up, a dynamic increase was also observed in spending. Spending exceeded 2019 values by almost 27% in June, 44% in July, 46% in August and 33% in September. Cardholders spent a total of HUF 19.5 bn in September, of which HUF 15 bn was spent from the catering sub-account, HUF 3 bn from accommodation and HUF 1.5 bn from recreation.

January-September 2020

The aggregated data for the first nine months of the current year show that a total of 7.1 million guests stayed for a total of 19.9 million nights in Hungarian accommodation; 77% of guests were domestic. Hotels registered 3.4 million guests and 8.2 million overnight stays. Based on the aggregated data, 1.1 million guests spent the night in Budapest accommodation venues for a total of 3.2 million nights. In the first nine months of the year, 6 million guests stayed at accommodation outside of Budapest, spending a total of 16.7 million nights. During the nine-month period, 86% of all guests were Hungarian in locations outside of Budapest; the ratio was reversed in the capital, where 73% were guests from abroad. Compared to last year’s figures, the number of domestic guests was 80% of that for the same nine months; the number of overnight stays by Hungarians amounted to 84% compared with the previous year.

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