Hungary has been taking on a new task in furthering the diplomatic relations with China, in addition to developing bilateral tourism cooperation. The China-CEEC (Central and Eastern European Countries) Tourism Coordination Center (herein after referred to as “the Center”) was inaugurated in Budapest on May 22, 2014. The establishment of the Center realized the first ever regional cooperation between China and CEE countries.
The Center is responsible for furthering tourism coordination between China and the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech, Estonia, Croatia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Hungary, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. For China, the characteristics of the Chinese market make regional tourism cooperation necessary, and even essential. If Chinese tourists travel to Europe, few would visit one country only. Normally they visit 2-3 or even 4-5 countries in one travel trip. The goal of the Center certainly is to attract as many Chinese tourists as possible to visit Central and Eastern Europe, because traveling around Central and Eastern Europe countries has been a very clear and attractive opportunity for Chinese tourists.
For future visitors, the Center in the first place is reliable, and it can provide first-hand information. For tourism professionals or agencies, the Center can provide a wonderful platform to find working partners with each other, and they can take this platform to develop high-class tourism products tailored for Chinese tourists. At the same time, the Center also shoulders the important task on making new travel routes, which can provide new opportunities for Chinese travel agencies, and will provide convenience for promotion of regional tourism. In order to maintain continuous high-level consultations, tourism industry leaders of the 16 countries and China will hold meeting once a year. Last year, the meeting was held on September 1-2 in Bled, Slovenia.
In November 2014, the Center, on behalf of the CEE region participated in the largest tourism activity in China, namely China International Tourism Exhibition (CITM) held in Shanghai. In March last year, the Center held a large-scale tourism event in Budapest and launched the official website of the Center. Participants from China and CEE countries who attended the activity found out the latest trends of China's tourism industry within the framework of a professional forum.
China's tourism market is currently growing fastest in the world, and at the same time also changing at the top speed with ever growing new demands, which requires the tourism industry to update and change all the time, and to develop corresponding products to meet with challenges. In May last year, the launching of direct flights between Budapest and Beijing is an effective response to this biggest challenge. The role of Hungary as a regional coordinator has been increasingly strengthened, which prospectively will be reflected soon on the number of inbound tourists to the country and to the region.
In January 2016, China-CEEC Tourism Coordination Center launched series of seminars on tourism routes and product development in Visegrad Group countries, Balkan and Baltic regions. COTRI and representatives from 16 CEE countries joined the event.
China Outbound Tri Ltd Germany’s professional summary report concluded the results from the seminars, namely status situation in the above mentioned 3 regions, communication tunnel serviced for tourism route execution, and suggestions in the field of brand and market service. Professor Dr. Wolfgang Arlt of the China Outbound Tourism Ltd. Germany delivered presentation of product development result to international professional public audience on Chinese related information conference on the margin of Budapest Tourism Exhibition in March.
The series activities related to 2016 Budapest International Tourism Exhibition held in March 3rd to 6th was a grand event for china and CEEC tourism cooperation. The People’s Republic of China, as the newly-appointed host country, opened regional office of China National Tourism Administration in Budapest, as part of the series activities, to provide help to outbound tourists on visa and other issues in CEE countries. Moreover, the China-CEEC Tourism Coordination Center held the 2nd session of Chinese-related information professional meeting, as well as the B2B seminar which aims to establish relationships between china and CEE region. Under the invitation of Tourism Coordination Center, 15 CEE participating countries took part in the Tourism Exhibition by displaying booth and by now it is the exhibition participated by most exhibiting countries.
According to the government’s decision, Hungarian National Tourism Agency (HNTA) was officially founded on May 1st, 2016. Unlike its predecessor, namely the Hungarian Tourism Development Bureau, HNTA is supervised now by government commissioner. For the new agency, government decides to appoint Minister of National Economy and Minister of National Development to wield their responsibilities. The infrastructure of the government commissioned agency is provided by Ministry of National Development. General Manager of the agency is chaired by Dr. Zoltán Guller, and Dr. Gusztáv Bienerth is responsible for government commissioned tasks.
With the help of Hungarian National Tourism Agency, the above mentioned region center could directly acquire real-time tourism tendency information about china market from Hungary, CEEC region, and even the entire Europe and the whole world. Those information plays vital role in strategy planning.
The main goal of the Center’s Hungarian officials is that the Center could evenly and fairly represent16 CEE countries in every event and project. China office of Hungarian National Tourism Agency helps to maintain daily work communication with China National Tourism Administration, while the Coordination Center in Budapest keeps contact with national coordinators appointed by the 16 countries.
The Center’s long-term target is to develop into a headquarter receiving trust from all parties who could spontaneously reach it as long as bilateral problems related to tourism occurred, and firmly believe they could receive effective and practical help. Of course the main task is to convey information to CEE countries, precisely the information related with China, Chinese tourism products and other professional info. We believe that tourism and business relations based on long-run trust could only be established by mutual understanding.