Tourism between Turkey and Hungary is on the up after a tough year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent curbs, official data showed.
The number of Hungarians visiting Turkey plummeted to just 16,563 in 2020, a dramatic drop from 149,523 in 2019, according to Turkey’s Tourism and Culture Ministry.
A heartening rebound has seen Turkey welcome 31,517 visitors from Hungary in just the first eight months of this year – a leap of 235.1% compared to the same period in 2020.
Tourists from the central European country accounted for 0.32% of all visitors to Turkey in 2019, but the figure slipped to 0.17% last year.
It climbed to 0.31% in the January-August period of 2021, reflecting Hungarians’ keen interest in Turkey.
Over the past 15 years, there has been a steady rise in the number of Hungarian tourists coming to Turkey – 78,000 in 2005, around 91,000 in 2010, and more than 140,000 in 2015.
- Facilitative measures, cultural ties
Turkey and Hungary have worked together over the years to make bilateral travel easier for their citizens.
For Hungarians, there is no need for a visa to enter Turkey.
During the pandemic, Budapest reciprocated by keeping Turkey on its list of safe travel countries, also offering exemptions to Turkish businesspeople and even dropping the requirement of vaccination proof for visa applications last month.
Viktor Mattis, Hungary’s ambassador to Ankara, has previously said that Hungarians view Turkey as a second home, with their favorite destination being the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya.
Renowned for its cultural activities and events, Hungary has been hosting a traditional Turkish event – Great Kurultaj – since 2008.
Budapest has also long been a supporter of Ankara’s bid to join the EU.
Mattis also reaffirmed that Hungary fully backs Turkey in the matter and will continue to do so.
“Hungary is a door to the EU for Turkey and Turkey is a bridge for Hungary to the Middle East,” the envoy said.