The coronavirus has shaken the whole world, not only in terms of health but also economically. No sector has been impacted more than Tourism.
In a recent interview, Gábor Gődény, managing director of the VisitDebrecen, Debrecen’s Tourism Agency, talked about the impact of the coronavirus on both tourism and the economy and looked to the aftermath. He addressed the question of how quickly the city’s tourism industry can revive after the coronavirus.
“The coronavirus is causing very serious damage to global tourism, and this is evident in the performance of tourism in the city and the region”, the director said.
He pointed out that the current situation has both a direct and an indirect effect. The direct effect is that we are seeing the cancellation of flights and the permanent closure of hotels, attractions, and restaurants. However, the indirect effect is the negative impact on economic results due to cancelled business trips and conferences and the job losses in the sector and the knock-on effect on consumer confidence.
“In this early spring period, Debrecen would normally have around 5,000 guest nights per week. This has now fallen back to barely measurable levels. In addition, the tourist performance of the city also includes passenger departure and arrivals, those arriving in the city only for one day, and those who do not overnight in the city but consume the city’s services and programs.”, he added.
The director said that hotels made the decision to close to slow down the spread of the virus. In the case of larger hotels, it means they need to repay tens of millions of forints as an advance repayment obligation. Currently, most hotels are performing urgent maintenance tasks, cleaning, and general maintenance work that keep the workplace safe.
The director also talked about the fact that the summer event season has been endangered all over Europe. Events are the top tourist attractions in Debrecen, so it is not surprising that they are watching the epidemic situation with concern. “To a lesser extent, events, conferences, and accommodation reservations were postponed to a later date, but mostly they were canceled.”, he added.
The director is convinced that tourism will pick up faster in Debrecen than elsewhere and he sees three reasons for it. Firstly, the desire and willingness to travel after the lockdown will be greater than ever, and people might prefer shorter domestic trips instead of traditional long summer trips. Debrecen can serve this need with its quality attraction and accommodation capacity and at very good value for money.
Secondly, Debrecen is in a better position than other parts of the country, i.e. Balaton, because the city is less exposed to seasonality. The city has lots to offer tourists in all seasons.
Last but not least, it is Debrecen’s range of offers. Debrecen has complex products and services fulfilling the needs of all types of visitors.
“We stand on several legs. We have and will have a new, world-class spa complex, events that attract tens of thousands to the city, a vibrant university student life, as well as a dynamically growing business sector. Our infrastructure is attractive for sports, conference tourism and health tourism; while a cultural life is unique in the region”, the director emphasized.
Debrecen is preparing for and expecting the tourism to return to its previous level in a few months once the necessary lockdown is lifted.