Hungary welcomes first Chinese tour group after COVID-19
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BUDAPEST, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Air China Flight CA435 from Chongqing arrived at Budapest Airport early on Wednesday carrying the first group of Chinese tourists since the COVID-19 lockdown. The 17-strong group was welcomed by a special ceremony and gifts were handed over by a group of young Hungarians dressed in national folk costumes. Hungarian government officials and representatives of the Chinese Embassy were also in attendance.
"I am very interested in European culture, I immediately signed up for the tour," Li Man, 61, from Shanghai said. He said he wanted to visit the places where the famous composer Franz Liszt lived.
Zhang Di, 56, also from Shanghai, said she was looking to attend an opera performance during her stay. She also recalled the name of Sandor Petofi, Hungary's national poet who lived in the 19th century and whom she had known since her youth.
She said she was also looking forward to seeing the Hungarian capital's iconic Chain Bridge, the New York Cafe in the heart of the city, and the wineries in the countryside.
Yang Chao, charge d'affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Hungary, said the group's arrival marked the resumption of tourism between the two countries. Tourism, he said, is key to promoting people-to-people exchanges and helps deepen the friendly ties between the two countries.
Speaking on behalf of the Hungarian Tourism Agency, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Zsofia Jakab said that with the return of tourists from China, Hungary's tourism industry expects rising numbers in 2023, approaching those registered in the pre-pandemic record year of 2019.
"If everything goes well, we might even get close to our record 42 million guest nights of 2019," she told Xinhua.
Jakab said that despite the long distance between the two countries, China has been among the top countries of origin for tourist arrivals in Hungary.
She said that Chinese tourists in increasing numbers choose Hungary as their destination of choice in Europe.
In previous years, tourist groups from China typically spent 2-3 days in Hungary, mostly in Budapest, but the current trend for them is to stay longer, eight to ten days, and to visit attractions in the countryside as well, she said.