Acta Universitatis Danubius. Œconomica, Vol 12, No 2 (2016)

The Competitiveness of Settlements with SPAS in some Central European Regions

Marta Bakucz, Zsuzsanna Pótó, Ádám Köbli


The paper covers two topics which are, broadly, inseparable. The first has as its main target the competitiveness of Spa Tourism in two Regions of Hungary - in settlements with different characteristics; the second, recognising the need for a new way to measure competitiveness in the sector, deals with the creation of a new competitiveness index.

The benefits of virtually all forms of Tourism - economic or social – are well enough known to need no repetition. This is especially true of such fields as Spa or Health Tourism, in which there is a natural trend towards longer stays and higher expenditure by visitors. For a relatively poor country such as Hungary – weak in natural resources apart from agricultural land – the basic presence of a generous supply of easily accessible thermal or medicinal water below a huge proportion of its surface area (70%) is a remarkable gift. Nevertheless, many factors are to be studied if a rational, sustainable development policy is to be elaborated by public and private interests.

There are many spas – settlements with thermal or medicinal waters (or both) - spread across Hungary, and their variety is extraordinary. There are huge differences in terms of size, visitor numbers, accommodation facilities, overnights, leisure or treatment facilities and location – that is, their closeness to favourable population areas (domestic or foreign). The critical decisions on investment and development need comprehensive data on all factors of all locations. The essential issue is competitiveness: in Central Europe, where spas have a great tradition and history (e.g., Germany, Austria and today’s Czech Republic), does or can Hungary offer a product which will sell? There are numerous factors and as many bases on which to judge.

In 2013 a team from the Faculty of Business and Economics at Pécs University - supported by Hungary’s National Scientific Research Foundation (OTKA) – embarked on a study of the competitiveness of spas in the Southwest of the country – an area close to the border with Austria – both an important source of clients and, with its own modern, highly developed spa tourism sector, a serious competitor. The project is scheduled to end in Summer 2016.

A total of 38 spas were examined in Hungary and bordering Burgenland. This was based on a variety of approaches: data obtained from, for example, Hungary’s Central Statistical and Tax Offices, individual websites of spas, personal visits and interviews by members of the research team and a telephone survey of customers by a professional market research organisation.

Many factors were used to create a comprehensive set of indicators for what we hope will be accepted as a useful general purpose tool. These ranged from basic concerns such as the type of water in a location and accessibility to size, accommodation quality, facilities and services – together, of course, with cost).



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