BUDAPEST, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Tourism is among the sectors hit hardest by the novel coronavirus outbreak inn Hungary, but the imminent easing of the restrictions outside the capital Budapest sheds a glimmer of hope.
The Hungarian government announced on Thursday that it will allow open-air restaurants, beaches and hotels to reopen next week, and the Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air will resume operations in May.
On Monday, one of the country's largest hotel chains announced that it was laying off more than half of its employees.
"The reduction process to be launched in May affects more than 50 percent of the employees," Hunguest Hotels said, adding that the firm would help the affected employees with employment counseling, life coaching and retraining support.
Most of the hotels operated by Hunguest are planned to be able to reopen in the middle of the summer, but a decision is expected later, depending on the pandemic situation, the company said.
Alongside the restrictions on the movement of Hungarians introduced in late March -- to be eased on May 4 -- the coronavirus has had a demonstrable effect on Hungary's tourism industry as tourist groups have not left China for European destinations, the Hungarian Tourism Agency (MTU) said on its website.
"Chinese tourists represented 5-6 percent of the total guest traffic, most of whom arrived in Budapest in groups," the MTU recalled.
MTU President Zoltan Guller is confident that the epidemiological situation in Europe will improve in the coming months, as this process has already begun in China.
"Once the panic situation is past its peak, the Hungarian Tourism Agency will embark on intensive international campaigns. According to international experience, it takes about 10 months for traffic in the sector to recover," Guller said.
Meanwhile, the MTU has produced a short tourism promotional film targeting at Hungarians. The film is currently shown on national television channels and on social media.
"The agency is sending a message to Hungarians that no one will give up hope, because together we will successfully overcome the current difficult situation and set off again for the wonderful domestic destinations. But now the most important thing is to take care of each other."
Hungarian government helps the tourism industry with tax relief, leaving 66 billion Hungarian forints (203 million U.S. dollars) in the tourism and agriculture sectors. The social contribution tax has also been reduced by 2 percentage points, which will be maintained in the long run.
The Hungarian government has also pledged to provide additional resources for priority areas in the next three years in the form of investment subsidies, tax reductions, infrastructure development, soft and guaranteed loans, as well as capital programs, according to the government website dedicated to the coronavirus outbreak. (1 U.S. dollar = 324.28 Hungarian forints) Enditem