County Vas, just as Hungary reached a mile stone regarding its improvements primarily its improvements in tourism in 2013. In 2013 Hungary’s first complete financial period will finish as an EU member, which offers the opportunity to evaluate previous years’ development goals and their effects. At the same time 2013 is also a significant period of the preparation for the next EU financial period of 2014-2020. There the new development ideas can be formed considering the results and experience so far.
The tourism of Hungary and county Vas was influenced not only by the EU membership and available financial resources but by the significant differences in the economic capacity and a fast changing market for tourism as well. On the basis of the previous years’ experience it can be stated that the tourism of county Vas did principally well according to the statistics of the number of the guests, although warning signs can be noted in some components of the results too.
About the situation of the tourism in the county we were able to collect several pieces of information that had never been collected under such circumstances before moreover not only from the statistics but also from the parties highly involved in the tourism. From these parties the tourism destination management organisations emerge which were established partially also by EU financial resources, they built up from below and had already been successful abroad for a long time. They are the organisations that join the parties interested in the tourism of the given region.
The guest and service research is also outstanding which was carried out while applying the same comprehensive methodology in each destination. On the one hand, it confirmed several previous public opinions and on the other hand it even disproved some.
According to the statistics the number of the overnight stays spent at the commercial accommodation in the county increased by more than 20 % in the period of 2008- 2012 which is significantly higher than the average increase of 9% in Hungary. It is a further advantageous indicator that averagely the guests stayed also longer than the country average- it was 3,1 night/ person, the country average was 2,6 night/ person (2012). The composition of the overnight stays shifted slowly to the foreign visitors in the current period.
From the data above it can be stated that the tourism of county Vas is at least partially:
- ’economy recession resistant’ and
- composed of competitive elements.
Beyond the statistics data much detailed information is provided by the information of the primary research which included:
- TDM (Tourism Destination Management) and other organizations of the county interested in tourism,
- tourism services,
- independent experts in tourism,
- the tourists visiting our county.
The optimistic statistics data are shaded by the feedbacks, which necessitates the foundation of a regional cooperation in tourism. The results of the primary research mainly showed in case of each target group asked the following facts:
- the necessity of a cooperation in tourism which actually must be generated by one of the participants, since the imitativeness is little on the side of all participants but they would happily participate a cooperation initialised by ‘someone’.
- the development of tourist information service, the strengthening of marketing activity, especially online
- offering a much wider range of programmes and the information about these must be submitted to the guests.
From the above mentioned it can be claimed that the elements of the general or tourist infrastructure are considered as good, but at least it overreaches the country average. Any severe critics or shortcomings do not emerge in connection to that. The bases of the further development of tourism are from this point of view promising.
The distribution of tourist services within the county (f.e. resort places / accommodation) is on the other hand fairly uneven, but their number must be increased only in geographically abandoned places; the priority is to increase the standard and services/ facilities of the existing accommodation capacities.
What at the same time outstandingly necessary is to appear towards the guests by further development of these offers. They must be chiefly combined, complex and target group oriented both in the region and other inland settlements and also abroad.
The main directions of the service development in tourism can be: to expand health tourism (medical water, active tourism, bio tourism, local products, herbs etc.) and the cultural tourism (especially involving the religious tourism).
Already before this study was prepared and socialized the Tourism Conciliation Forum of county Vas was founded. Although at present it works only informally, already its existence helped a lot with the preparation of the material. In a given case a stronger cooperation, a formalised organization would only be able to meet the above requirements and to market the tourism facilities of this territory by the contribution of local tourism parties, TDM organisations in a marketable way. The participants of the tourism forum helped with the preparation of the present study a lot, at the same time they can provide reliable professional control for the professional determination of the plans for tourism development for the coming years. This can also contribute to the further development of the tourism of county Vas which is competitive and socially- financially and environmentally sustainable. By compilation of this study we were eager to introduce the present situation as thoroughly as possible, besides we tried to avoid (but at least to limit) relating to the well-known information and facts that are trivial for the experts participating the projects or rather earlier as part of other studies and conceptions had already been published. While we were preparing the analysis we were considering the aims of the latest regional development conception of the county and we were employing the proposals concerning the economy development plans drawn by the Trade and Industry Chamber of county Vas in the last 4 years and the regional tourism development strategy for the period of 2007-2013.
The analysis of the situation is the part of the professional process begun on the basis of which the development conception for tourism in the county can be worked out in the near future. Because of the shortness of time (hardly 3 months) the study contains only partially the detailed critical analysis of the ground infrastructure and natural resources and their international comparism.
How to remedy these shortcomings must be involved primarily in the process of the preparation of the future conception for tourism.
2. Introduction of the methodology
Within the scope of the status analysis priory and secondary researches were preceded.
The secondary research analysed on the one hand the data of the Central Statistics Office concerning the tourism in county Vas. Within the scope of that the tourism offers, f.e. accommodation capacity and demand were measured. During the analysis of the data concerning the differences and collaboration in tourism processes of county Vas and Hungary were laid special emphasis on.
We examined the characteristics of the tourism of county Vas working up the available inventories of attractiveness. Besides, the development in tourism realised during the previous years, was introduced among others by showing the realised tourist attractions, facilities and organization development projects relying on financial EU resources partially overreaching the borders.
The goal of the priory analysis was to get to know the opinion of the target groups involved in the tourism of the county as thoroughly as possible. The research was realised in the whole territory of the county for the sake of this the subjects of the study were the following:
TDM organisations in the county
TDM tasks fulfilling organisations interested in tourism in the county
tourist attractions and service suppliers
independent experts in tourism
tourists in the county
In the case of TDM organisations and other tourism destination organisations deep-interviews were carried out regarding what important role they play in the tourism of the county. The topics of the interviews were the following ones:
information about the organisation, foundation, number of members, destination statistics, features of human resource
budget details, local council support, structure of outgoings, marketing budget ,
the contact of TDM organisations to other organisations, services, regional organisations, expectations between the different levels,
characterising of the tourism of the county from the own point of view
experience and proposals concerning tourism co-operations in the county,
proposals concerning the further development of the TDM organisational system.
The tourist attractions and services are crucial, namely they are the ones who meet the visitors in person and have the highest knowledge about their demand/ request. Furthermore they comprise TDM organisations as well, thus they have outstanding influence on the activities of the TDM organisations. Their opinion was surveyed -the following topics covered- thoroughly by means of sent surveys:
• General data of the enterprise, the scope of their activity,
• Information concerning the guests, orientation of guests,
• Surveying the potential for further development, identification of new target groups,
• Making proposals for directions of the tourism development in the county,
• Characteristics of service sales, marketing activity,
• Experience of co-operation with other tourism participants,
• Opinions about local products, experience,
• Experience with TDM organisations, expectations.
The representative survey of the tourists visiting the county gives precise information about the status of the tourism and the standards of its services. The guests were asked in the form of a questionnaire, the main topics of which were:
• General data,
• Travelling circumstances,
• Motivation for travelling,
• Details of stay, the length of stay, the planning of the travel, experience gained while requesting information preliminarily or on the spot,
• Surveying of willingness to come back.
The data of the priory research concerning the three above mentioned target groups were worked up by a group of experts which was founded by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of county Vas and included the co-workers of the TDM organisations of the county as well. In this way the connections between the answers were analysed as well. The results of the research were worked up and displayed fully in text and also in diagrams.
The tourism of county Vas performed from several viewpoints well or at least better in the previous years than what the inner and outer conditions would have accounted for.
The objections for this territory determined in 2007 were only partially realized after a European Union development period. The attraction- and service developments realised during this period of time enriched first of all the project owners and the local destination. Unfortunately, these developments were not integrated in the scope of a in broader sense meant regional or county destination. This means that the development potential of the territory was not exploited.
The developments did not contribute to shaping a unique service offer, although the image of the local destinations is still strong enough in the eyes of the visitors, which can be seen in the increasing number of visitors.
In 2013 nobody is in charge of the tourism of the county, though the conversation began between the local TDM organizations and organisations fulfilling similar function and hopefully it will be stronger and stronger- but they are still far from fulfilling that important function in protection of interests, coordination, professional function which would be needed.
The tourism of this territory had been analysed so thoroughly now for the first time which involved the visitors coming here, tourism services and tourism destination management organisations. From this primary research derive several valuable and sometimes surprising pieces of information which slightly changes the assumptions of participants of the local tourism in connection with the opinion of the tourists about this territory.
Despite the general opinion of the TDM organisations and touristic services the tourists have –regardless the deficiencies- a better opinion about the general and tourist infrastructure of the county. At the same time their opinion is worse about the programmes and events etc. offered.
The survey backed by the previous years’ statistics of the catering trade highlights all in all that the bases of the tourism development are good, but as it lacks cooperation, so this development potential cannot be made the most of it.
The needs for the developments of tourism in the county can be summarized under the headings:
- To develop general infrastructure, especially accessibility and internal sustainable mobility
- To create a network of the existing local destinations that possess locally a strong imagine and mainly good service facilities.
- To develop the regional tourism organisation system. To its range of activities belong development co-ordination, providing of information, marketing and sales. To be able to do so a co-ordination organisation is absolutely necessary that co-ordinates the tourism organisation developments at regional level, because as the experience shows the participants like to take apart in a regional collaboration. On the other hand the local TDM organisations are not ready to fulfil this function.
In case of service facility developments the priorities must be determined much more focused, which can be of direct effect on the positioning of the territory later. These service facilities are:
- Health tourism, in a broader sense, thus medical and wellness tourism, types of active tourism, bio tourism, local products and climatic health resort.
- Cultural tourism, sights and programmes
In case of both development directions in tourism the local residents must be mentioned as well, as the people living in the tourist destinations whose attending the local tourism infrastructure could be improved as well. In this way they could improve their life quality.
The above mentioned tourism development objections have several other preconditions, thus also effects. Hereby the most important factor would be to ensure the existence of the proper human resources. The adventurous effects of tourism can be traced in this field in evoking new workplaces as well.
Within the scope of the FUTUR project Vas, Zala counties and Pomurje region prepared their own tourism concept, which was followed by a series of workshops and in this way the common regional tourism strategy will have been ready by the beginning of 2015.
The concept of Zala County and the marketing plan were already produced during 2013 while the guidelines were constantly negotiated with the partners.
After mapping the conditions in 2013 Vas County prepared its tourism concept by the end of 2014.
„This tourism concept of Vas county may be slightly extraordinary but it has been formulated to establish who, where and how will create the right conditions to make the tourism branch of the county enable to serve to its best the residents’ welfare here and thus the country’s as well. The question is not that if more tourists will visit the county or where they come from. The real question is how we can achieve to improve the possible positive effects of the tourism- this especially complex and misinterpreted economic and social system- on the residents here and realising this without starting or rather continuing to make money fly and destruct endangering in this way the future of the next generations. ” – claimed Károly Balogh, the General Secretary, on behalf of the Chamber of Trade and Industry of Vas County responsible for the development of the concept.
The tourism concept of Pomurje region was produced under the directions of the RRA-Mura partner by autumn 2014.