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"It is very important that we restore as many direct flights as possible between China and Hungary," Jakab said, explaining that the resumption of direct services is expected to enable a return to pre-COVID-19 tourism levels. Before the pandemic, Hungary welcomed around 280,000 visitors from China each year.

BUDAPEST, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- The number of direct flights between China and Hungary has increased in recent years in line with Hungary's eagerness to welcome visitors from the Asian country, Zsofia Jakab, deputy chief executive officer (CEO) of the Hungarian Tourism Agency (MTU), told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

"It is very important that we restore as many direct flights as possible between China and Hungary," Jakab said, explaining that the resumption of direct services is expected to enable a return to pre-COVID-19 tourism levels. Before the pandemic, Hungary welcomed around 280,000 visitors from China each year.

© Provided by Xinhua

Jakab gave the interview on the eve of the resumption of two direct flights, one on Nov. 11, linking the Hungarian capital to Shanghai, and the other on Nov. 18, between Budapest and Chongqing. These two routes complement the Budapest-Beijing direct connection, which was reopened in July this year.

Thanks to the gradual resumption of direct flights between the two countries, the number of Chinese tourists coming to Hungary is now on the increase again.

"In 2021, 5,000 tourists arrived from China. This year we have already welcomed 16,000 Chinese tourists, who had spent 72,000 guest nights here until October," Jakab said.

In central Europe, there is fierce competition among countries today to attract Chinese tourists, who tend to be the biggest spenders and whose contribution to the host countries' economic growth is considered invaluable, Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has said recently.

© Provided by Xinhua

Jakab said that the MTU is also doing its best to attract Chinese tourists. "Even during the autumn and winter period, when fewer tourists arrive from China, the MTU is steadfastly promoting Hungary as a top tourist destination" on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WeChat, Weibo and even Tik-Tok) and in other online and offline channels.

Besides its cultural heritage, architecture and spas, gastronomy is one of Hungary's main tourist magnets, she said, noting that the country has a growing number of Michelin-starred restaurants.

"We welcome our visitors from China with a diverse gourmet experience in the capital city and the countryside alike," she said.

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