While Hungary has had a fairly bad press abroad for political reasons over the past years, Budapest has gradually gained a positive international image as a friendly and welcoming city.
On Komment, Csaba Gaál argues that a positive spiral has been set in motion as more tourists have been arriving and more restaurants and bars have been opening to receive them. He does not dismiss the efforts by the government to promote tourism as useless, but suggests that the main factors that have helped Budapest acquire the fame of a favourite tourist destination are the depreciation of the national currency, the development of a “party district” with pubs in rundown buildings called “ruin pubs” and a whole series of newly built restaurants and pubs in the 7th district, as well as the increasing number of cities connected to Budapest by low fare air companies. Further factors have been the yearly Formula 1 race, the Budapest Spring Festival and the top notch art exhibitions in the Museum of Fine Arts. “Politics dealt a severe blow to our image, rightly or wrongly,” Gaál continues, but the millions of young people who spread the word about what a good time they had in Budapest are the best publicity a country can dream of.