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Characteristics of conference tourism at large lakes in Europe and suggestions for development at Lake Balaton region, Hungary.

1. Introduction

Water is the most important touristic resource, independent from the fact whether it is an ocean, a lake or a river. The attention of touristic experts has been turning to touristic utilization of smaller lakes. The fact that a number of international conferences have recently been held on the topic also asserts this statement (in Savonlinna, Finland, 2003, in Hang Chou, China, 2005, or in Gyongyos, Hungary, 2007). On the other hand, Living Lakes, a global network run by environment protectionists has also come to life, the operation of which is co-ordinated by Global Nature Fund, an international non-profit organization.

This publication aims at offering a brief overview of the lakes that play a crucial role in European tourism. I am about to examine the working mechanism and participants of conference tourism at large European lake destinations and also the way their characteristics can be used at Lake Balaton in order to foster the development of the region.

2. Conference tourism being one of the fastest developing sectors of tourism

In the second part of the twentieth century, a rapidly developing touristic field came to life as a result of the more and more important international role of economy and politics as well as the developing technology: conference tourism.

Besides classic advertising, conferences have become the most important means of economic communication, therefore, the importance of their success keeps on getting greater. (Varga, J, 2004)

Congress tourism includes all kind of programs (congress, conference, symposium, round-table talks, exhibition, fair or workshops) where participants discuss matters under well-organized conditions or gain economic or academic experience. (Michalko, G, 1998)

A harsh expansion of business tourism has been noticeable during the last 25 years. This is not only true for foreign but also for domestic tourism. Because of this, touristic experts agree in the importance of taking the matter under further examination (Davidson, R, 2008 ; Bradley et al., 2002). According to touristic experts, the most important elements of business tourism are meetings, conferences and organizing exhibitions (Law, C. M. , 1993; Oppermann, M, and Chon, K.-S., 1997).

Conference tourism is one of the fastest developing and most profitable fields of tourism. Because of it, a more and more significant number of destinations consider the developing of conference tourism as a highly important field when they elaborate their tourism policy. It also contributes to rising wages and employment data, improvement of the international balance of payments as well as generates investments in touristic infrastructure or assists in spreading new technologies and theories. (Dwyer, L. and Mistils, N., 1997).

3. European lake destinations

Everyday language defines lakes as larger stagnant waters on dry land. A definition which tends to be classical, was written in 1901 by F. A. Forel does not seem to tell much more about it. According to Forel, "... a lake is stagnant water which fills a pit of the surface, is surrounded from all directions and does not have a direct physical connection with seas."

Lakes can evolve in consequence of endogen powers (crustal movements, volcanic processes), exogenous powers (e.g. ice covering, river erosion, karst formation), cosmic effects, or anthropogenic effects (Szabo, J., 1992).

The number of lakes on planet Earth definitely reaches a number of one million. Their extent is, however, only 2,5 million square kilometres, which is merely 0,5 per cent of the surface of our planet. The areas with the highest number of lakes are not particularly suitable for a coastal holiday as these areas are in Canada, Finland or in Sweden. The other area which is rich in lakes can be found in semi-desert, semiarid areas where lakes are mostly temporary ones--they regularly change their place and form, are salty and are without an outlet (David, L., 2007).

Each destination can easily be characterised with the help of their unique, distinct touristic resources. On the basis of its functioning, a destination can be defined as a unit of organized touristic services. A competitive advance can be reached by a comprehensive strategy or co-ordinating the product development (Kokkonen, P., 2003).

A lake becomes a touristic destination if tourists start visiting it. Without it, every lake is merely an unknown blue spot on the map, which is only important as the part of the environment and for the sociocultural traditions of the local society.

For lakes a relative close geographic position to an economically advanced area always means a major attraction. The most popular lakes are usually near densely populated cities--Lake Constance on the borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the Great Lombard lakes in Italy (e.g. Lake Garda, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore), or lakes of Switzerland (Luzern Lake, Lake Lugano, lake Neuchatel).

The popularity and fame of a lake is not determined by its geographic extent, but its functional factors: is there another well-known destination in the neighbourhood? (e.g. the Alps Mountains and the lakes) How easy is it to reach? (Periphery position and the short distance to big cities mean an advantage.) What are the infrastructure and the quality of services like? How successful is the development and marketing strategy? (How does the development organization work? How strong is the image of the destination?) For instance, Finland has been advertising itself as the 'a land of a thousand lakes' since the largest lake complex can be found there--but in spite of it, the lakes of Switzerland, Italy or Germany are more well-known and more popular than the Finnish ones.

The regional and local cultural environment, the essential condition of inhabitants and the traditions all play a crucial role when examining resources of a lake destination. Due to the examination it can be stated that European lakes are cultural destinations, too. Cultural attractions appear in the marketing activity of these lakes. Some examples could be Snowdonia National Park in Wales where a large number of forts, churches and castles can be found and advertises itself with Celtic myths and legends, Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy with its medieval traditions and fortresses, or Masurian Lake District in Poland with its German castles, fabulous churches and Hitler's quarters.

The attraction of a touristic destination can be its physical features (natural facilities), the types of activities available there (touristic activities), the popular image about the destination, and all these altogether (David L.--Baros Z., 2007). The modern traveller is usually attracted by the services the destination can offer--clear water, silence and peace are no more enough. The services supplied by hotels, restaurants and further service companies play a very important role if the traveller compares lake regions.

Contrasted with Mediterranean and ski destinations, tourists at lake destinations usually travel from shorter distances and they normally prefer using their cars to airplanes. On the spot of mass tourism the services offered are easily comparable with tourists' needs. In order to make lakes competitive also for international tourism, user-friendly and attracting packages must be completed. A unique touristic offer must be put into shape, by melting the original, authentic traditions of the destination in it (Kokkonen, P., 2003).

4. Characteristics of conference tourism at large European lakes

Taking a glance at the great lakes of Europe, one must see that conference tourism is particularly typical at Lake of Geneva, Lake Lugano, Lake Constance and the Worthersee.

4.1. Lake of Geneva

Switzerland is renowned all over the world as a first class country for hosting conventions and incentives. It offers everything necessary to organize a successful event: easy access, among the most modern facilities and cultural programs and many attractions for spending some leisure time. The Lake of Geneva (in French: Lac Leman) is the second largest freshwater lake of Europe after lake Balaton, Hungary. 60 per cent of the lake belongs to Switzerland, 40 per cent belongs to France. The most important cities on the Swiss shore are Geneva, Lausanne, Vevey and Montreux, while the French shore has got Evian-les-Bains and Thonon-les-Bains. On the northern hill area we can find the grape-growing region of Lavaux, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Geneva Convention Bureau offers 11 regions out of the country's 13 for the purpose of congress tourism. Two regions of this kind are mentioned on the Swiss homepage of the Lake of Geneva: The Geneva Region and the Lake of Geneva Region. Conference tourism focuses on two cities in the Lake of Geneva Region. One of them is Lausanne, the other one is one of the most spectacular places of the Swiss Riviera: Montreux-Vevey.

Lausanne is a wonderful city, built on three hills and has an overlook on Lake of Geneva. The city is the home of the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Museum. The medieval pedestrian precincts of the downtown, the marvellous shops, the large number of museums, galleries, restaurants and cafes all attract tourists here.

Lausanne awaits its business guests with excellent infrastructure, professionally organized conference services, and a large number of touristic and cultural attractions. Lausanne is a city which possesses special Swiss values: reliability, stability and security. The Geneva-Cointrin airport is only 60 kilometres away but the city is easy to reach by railway and on roads, too. Distances between conference centres and the hotels or the city centre are relatively small and, thanks to the advanced local traffic system, everything is within easy reach. The biggest conference centres in the city are the Lausanne Congress Centre (for 4500 people), Salle Metropole (2000 people), Lausanne Universitat (3000 people) Casino de Mountbenon (490 people), World Trade Centre (280 people), and the assembly hall of the pedagogical college (500 people) and there are further 3--4--or 5-star hotels where conferences and meetings are held.

The success of a conference does not only depend on the standard of it or on the scene of the session, but also the quality of the leisure time activities. Theme evenings, visiting castles, mansions and wineries, galleries, museums, casinos, concerts, gastronomic programs are all offered to tourists.

A Computerised Event System has been introduced in the city which provides a unique and efficient interface between event organisers and event participants. It is an online registration and communication system which is suitable for every type of conference and is extremely user-friendly. With the help of a computer, registration, booking accommodation and billing process are really easy to conduct.

The greatest advantage is that using this system, event organisers can easily find every piece of information (programs, available rooms, payment modalities, etc). The system helps processing applications, as well as setting up and maintaining a participant databank.

Services of the Lausanne Congress Office:

1. Preparation before the convention:

--design of an internet site for registration at the convention

--administration of convention registrations, accommodation and social activities

--checking of payments

--confirmations to each participant about registration, accommodation and payment

--manufacture of badges

--preparation of personal documents

2. Reception and logistics service during the convention:

--welcome of delegates at the registration desk

--delivery of personal documents and badges

--last-minute registrations and on-the-spot payments

--general and tourist information

--accreditation of participants at the convention venue

3. Closing of the convention:

--auditing and balancing of accounts

--summary statements and breakdowns of accounts

The cost of this service is CHF 75.00 for each participant.

The characteristics of Montreux--Vevey are the heart-stopping view of the scenery, palm trees, vineyards, the Alps with its glaciers and Savior-Vivre. The wide range of accommodation, extraordinary settings of conventions, a lot of cultural programs and festivals make the destination ideal for holding conferences, meetings and incentive tourism. The international conventions of the region are the Jazz Festival in July, the Christmas Market, and the "Festival du rire" in December. The vineyards lying on fabulous hillsides give an incredible sight. The region became an UNESCO's World Heritage Site.

Montreux-Vevey lies at the meeting of the most important European highways. It is also near the Geneva International Airport. These two factors make the

town the spot of international conferences, congresses and incentive travels. There is a wide variety of accommodation here: visitors can choose from classic palaces, renovated houses of Belle-Epoque, modern business hotels and romantic mountain chalets.

Situated in the heart of Montreux, the Congress Centre is accessible on foot from the town's hotels, extends over 18000 square metres of flexible space. In addition to its modern facilities, the centre offers a comprehensive range of technical, logistical, PCO and organizational services.

There are two further buildings suitable for a congress for a large number of participants in the town: Casino von Montreux is capable of receiving 1500 people and Le Petit Palais (900 people). Furthermore, one can find 21, 3-, 4--or 5--star hotels in the town that may hold conventions.

The most popular program for participants of a convention is visiting the 13th century Schloss Chilton, Riviera Fun Rally (getting know the area by old-timer cars), a boat-trip on Lake of Geneva, a trip to Diablerets glacier, ballooning over the Alps or rafting.

The heart of the Geneva Region is, of course, Geneva. The city is widely known and its name is in the news day by day as the UN and the International Red Cross have their headquarters here. These two organizations attract thousands of people for conferences, meetings or exhibitions. It is an ideal holiday resort, too since it is in the middle of Europe, possesses an international airport, modern infrastructure, services of high quality and an excellent image.

The Geneva Convention Bureau offers the following services at no costs:

--reservations of conference spaces and room allotments

--site inspection arrangements

--venue search

--coordination of off-site banquets or special events

--free publishing of events on their website and calendar

--providing participants with comprehensive documentation

For fee, they offer further services like:

--organisation of transfers and excursions

--multilingual guide assistance

--handling of reservations for congress participants

--submission of quotation

The city is a superb site for conventions of any kind because:

--the exhibition area of PalExpo is 102.000 square metres; there is an Arena room for 6500 people; the CICG (International Conference Center) can seat 2200 participants. These institutions are ideal places for organizing a convention and one can find 15 more conference centres

--There are 127 hotels with a total number of 8759 rooms in the city

--Approximately 60 hotels organize conferences

--One can enjoy all the advantages of a town--there are only 180.000 inhabitants

--It has got an own airport and it is easy to reach from all around Europe

--Traffic between the airport, hotels and conference centres is exceptional

--There is a vast number of possibilities for taking part in social, cultural programs and excursions

--The surroundings of Geneva is fabulous: it can be found in one of Europe's most beautiful lake and mountain regions

4.2. Lake of Lugano

Lake of Lugano is situated in the southern area of canton Tessin of Switzerland and in Northern Italy. The lake got its name after the city of Lugano. The lake occupies a territory of 48,7 square kilometres, 30,7 square kilometres of which belongs to Switzerland and 18 square kilometres to Italy.

A cross-road between Northern and Southern Europe, Lugano is the place where Swiss civilization meets the Italian. Lugano boasts the third financial centre of Switzerland and plays host to conference centres, banks and businesses. It is also the city of flowers and parks, villas and churches which enchants its visitors with Mediterranean magic.

The Lugano Congress Centre is situated in the city centre, very close to the financial and recreational infrastructures, the Civic Park and the lake. The congress hall is the ideal place to hold congresses and national and international events. On the ground floor there is a large amphitheatre capable of seating 1130 people.

Forty-six hotels of the city host conferences and congresses. The most widely known ones are II. Ciani, a historical building in a 4000 square metre-large park, Grand Hotel Eden, Hotel Splendid Royal, Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola an Lac, Swiss Diamond Hotel Olivella, Villa Principe Leopoldo Hotel And Spa, and Hotel de Lac.

Seventeen tour operators take care of tourists and their most convenient place for congresses. Examples are Accentrix, which is an integrated marketing, communications and design agency, Amiconi Consulting, which concentrates mainly on companies, Atlantis Royal which offers advanced style-consulting, EF Events, a staff with 30 years of experience in top-class events for multinational companies, MP Action, which is a specialist for sport and social activities and team building or Team Now, an agency specialised in outdoor trainings.

Operators offer boat trips, cycling tours, guided sightseeing tours, Nordic walking, visiting San Grato botanic park and Golf Club Lugano and various evening programs for conference participants.

4.3. Lake Constance

Lake Constance is a freshwater lake and is situated in Germany, Switzerland and Austria near the Northern Alps. It is the third largest lake in Central Europe, after Lake Balaton and Lake of Geneva. Its shorelines lie in the German federal- states of Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg, the Austrian federal-state of Vorarlberg and the Swiss cantons of St. Gallen, Thurgau and Schaffhausen. The area of the lake is a very important natural scene, an important economic and holiday area. 1.6 million inhabitants live around the lake, its tourism is significant--approximately 6 million guest nights a year are spent there.

Bregenzer Festspiel und Kongresshaus Ltd (in Bregenz, Austria) helps clients who would like to organize conferences or meetings around Lake Constance. 11 organizations united into a network around the lake which organization offers clients services of high quality. The answer to market challenges is, according to them, is cooperation. This network means more pieces of information, more knowledge, more confidence for participants and more sources, a better performance, and more chance to a successful convention for clients.

The network Bodensee Meeting is unique in Europe, connected to conference facilities and conference organizations from three countries. With their help, congress organizers may have everything on one platter: from the event hall and conference centres through castles, ropeways and World Heritage sites, right up to conference hotels with the best of infrastructure. Their range of services includes extensive information about the conference options and incentives available in the entire Lake Constance region, professional consulting during the planning phase of your event, event management and

execution or organization of accompanying programs around Lake Constance. On each of the sites participating in the programme, an information office has been opened and program organizers are employed. The following 11 towns and regions have been co-operating around the lake:

--Bregenz: Festspielhaus Bregenz possesses 17 halls, the largest of which has a capacity of 1700 people. There is an exhibition area of 3500 square metres. There is accommodation facility in the town for 674 people in 4-star hotels and for 298 people in 3-star hotels.

--Friedrichshafen: In the Graf-Zeppelin-Haus 11 variable rooms and halls await congress participants. There is conference facility for up to 1500 persons; its exhibition area is 3700 sq.m. Altogether there are 2400 beds in different hotels of the town.

--Constance: One can find 10 conference facilities in the town for approximately 800 participants. The largest exhibition area is 1500 sq.m. large; hotels can provide beds for 1700 guests.

--Lindau: In Inselhalle Lindau participants may find three variable halls with a capacity for 1110 participants. Exhibitors may use 1000 sq.m. Hotels can provide accommodation for altogether 2000 people.

--Meersburg: The baroque castle of the town hosts six conference rooms in 700 sq.m. The capacity of its largest hall is 200 sq.m. There are 1500 beds in the town's hotels.

--Canton Thirgau: 16 Seminar hotels wait for its guests in this canton. Room capacities: up to 60 rooms in a 4-star hotel and up to 88 rooms in a 3-star hotel.

--Radolfzell: the former factory building at Milchwerk one can find 8 halls of different size, the largest of which has a capacity of 1024 people. Hotels of the town can provide accommodation for 780 guests.

--Santis, where you may have 'a conference above the clouds': organizing conventions is possible for up to 1000 participants; for exhibitions 400 sq. m. is available.

--Singen, 'the town where you may hold a conference beneath a volcano': In Stadthalle Singen one can find 8 rooms on 1800 sq.m., with a number of 1000 participants in the largest one.

--St. Gallen is a part of the UNESCO-World Cultural Heritage and a university town with several dozens of conference facilities. Its conference facilities: up to 3,900 persons in the Congress Centre. Exhibition area: 43.000 sq. m.

--Uberlingen: A spa resort with a bed capacity for 1750 guests. In Kursaal 330 participants may have a meeting, its exhibition area is 775 sq.m.

As a conclusion it can be stated that larger halls for larger conferences as well as smaller rooms for smaller meetings are available on each of these conference sites. There are large enough exhibition areas in each town that may be used together with the conferences. Organizers may find enough accommodation facilities in these towns for all participants taking part in the events.

4.4. The Worthersee

The Worthersee is one of the great lakes of Austria, the largest lake of Carinthia. It is situated in the Basin of Klagenfurt. The lake's name originates from a small church on one of its islands called Maria Worth Island. The Mediterranean climate and clean, warm water make the lake a popular tourist destination in summer.

The region of the lake is one of Austria's most beautiful and most widely known holiday resorts which offers an attractive atmosphere, creative scenes, professional infrastructure, as well as numerous sport and cultural programmes. They are concerned that the place where one can spend his free time in a pleasant way is an excellent place for a convention. Their slogan is: "Meet in the nature."

Both the Congress Centre Worthersee in Portschach and the new convention centre Casineum Velden are top convention centres which are able to accommodate conventions of any size due to most modern equipment and presentation media as well as flexible meeting space. A large number of hotels of the region possess modern convention infrastructure (the homepage of the lake recommends 12 hotels). Examples are Seehotel Haffnersee in Kentschach or Wezer's Hotel Resort and Park Hotel in Portschach.

Convention participants can choose from a large number of cultural and sport programmes. There are 13 golf courses in the region; performances on the Lake Stage and the local theatres are unique. Furthermore, there is a possibility to visit the casino or take part in boat trips as well as taking a trip to Lauristch fruit farm. Leader of the information office Andreas Irnstorfer helps organize these programs.

5. Characteristics of conference tourism in the Lake Balaton Region

In this study I am about to analyze the 164 settlements situated next to Lake Balaton and are called Lake Balaton Region. This region consists of 52 settlements directly on the shore and other 112 that are further from it but still in the region (Buday--Santha A. 2007).

17.1 per cent of all the guests arriving to Hungary chose lake Balaton region in 2007. The number of guests increased by 8.7 percent compared to 2006. Guest nights spent at the lake also got higher in 2007, by 3.7 per cent and 22.7 per cent of all guest nights were spent in this region (National Statistic Bureau of Hungary, 2008).

The vast majority of conferences are organized by hotels in this region. As of 2007, 25.8 per cent of the overall hotel capacity and 22.2 per cent of guest nights of Hungary was at Lake Balaton. 16.7 per cent of gross hotel income came from this region (Statisztikai Tukor, 2008). Statistic data also show that hotels at Lake Balaton are significantly cheaper than the ones of Budapest. This fact makes Lake Balaton a more competitive region for conference tourism. After the capital city, Lake Balaton Region welcomed the highest number of conference guests in 2007. Chart 1 provides evidence for this statement:

In 2007, Lake Balaton holiday region welcomed 151480 conference guests which are 20.08 per cent of all conference guests in Hungary. 90 per cent of them preferred accommodation in hotels directly on the shore of the lake. The number of conference guests became 9.25% more than that in 2006 but 27.5 per cent more than in 2002. That means a significant growth at the lake, with an approximately unchanged number of conference guests in the whole country (768061 participants in 2002, 754308 participants in 2007). (Office of county Veszprem, National Statistic Bureau of Hungary, 2009).

The following diagram illustrates settlements in Lake Balaton region which received the largest number of conference guests in 2007.

[GRAPHIC 1 OMITTED]

According to this diagram, it is clearly seen that Siofok, Balatonfured and Tihany were the three most popular settlements in the region among conference guests in 2007. Balatonalmadi and Balatonkenese also welcomed more than 10.000 convention guests. The reason for this order may be the relative easy approachability, the close distance to Budapest and the number and quality of the accommodation facilities as well as convention scenes in the mentioned settlements.

6. Suggestions for developing conference tourism in the Lake Balaton Region, on the basis of the results found after analyzing some European lake destinations

Lakes are touristic areas with extraordinarily complex attractions. Lake destinations must be handled as a unique system. The region must be developed by preserving nature and the scenery and with co-operation of the organizations, in a sustainable way.

Some of the lakes may welcome its guests in the season. At lakes like these, the aim is making the touristic season longer in space and time. Market segments may be pensioners and conference guests arriving to conventions, meetings. Developing touristic products that attract visitors all year long, independently from taking a bath in the lake must be preferred. Such products are funfairs, theme parks, sport events in case of entertainment; trekking, cycling, horse-riding, hunting, fishing if we think about active holidays; or building outdoor village museums, interactive museums, organizing cultural events and festivals.

Developing convention tourism at Lake Balaton Region is particularly important because it attracts tourists with high solvency. Furthermore, it is able to complement holiday tourism since the preferred time of conference tourism is in the autumn and spring months. MICE market is observed and analysed by Hungarian Convention Bureau, which is a department of Hungarian National Tourist Office. Its aim is to assist meetings and convention industry professionals planning events in the country by providing free information, promotional materials and valuable contacts through its network of the best conference hotels and convention, exhibition and special events' venues. In order to further develop convention tourism at Lake Balaton, the region needs an own convention bureau or bureaus.

Opening a convention bureau in Siofok, the second most popular town in conference tourism would be essential. Later on, another office should be opened in Balatonfured and one more in the region of Heviz and Keszthely. In our days Tourinform offices provide information, the importance of which is not merely in informing tourists but also in requiring information -workers of Tourinform offices are the ones who know the local supply and the needs of tourists visiting the town the best.

Founding convention bureaus, being part of local destination management, is needed. Tourism activities of a settlement or of a small region are conducted by local destination management organizations (Hungarian abbreviation: HDMSZ). A HDMSZ works as a co-operation of local citizens, local governments and touristic entrepreneurs. However, setting up a HDMSZ is justified only in settlements that have a powerful touristic attraction. They can work only in case of initiatives coming from below (organization building and financing).

The task of the offices will be represent a convention destination by shaping partnership among touristic entrepreneurs, lobby activities, issuing brochures of high quality, reservation of conference spaces and room allotments, inspecting sites, publishing of events on their websites, advertising, organizing transfer and excursions for participants, providing multilingual guide assistance. The homepage of these offices is going to provide a brief introduction of the region, a list of conference spaces--both convention centres and hotels - offers of different accommodation types, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of conference bureaus, facultative program offers and a list of sights of the region. Web pages are planned to be multilingual, all the information will be available at least in Hungarian, German, English and Russian languages.

An electronic event management system must be set up which establishes and maintains the effective communication between the convention bureau and organizers and participants of conventions. With the help of the bureau registration, bookings of accommodation as well as the summary statements of accounts will be very easy. Its biggest advantage is that all the required information is available on the same place (program of the convention, halls, leisure time activities, payment modalities, etc). This system will help processing applications as well as setting up and maintaining a databank of participants.

Establishing at least two new conference centres would be necessary in the region from financial support of private investors. These centres would be able to host conventions of larger numbers (1500-2000 participants). They would be built directly next to high quality hotels with the necessary space for a larger number of participants. One of them would be built in the town of Siofok, for instance, by the reconstruction of Kalman Imre Cultural Centre. The other one would be built in the Keszthely-Heviz region. Alas, today only two convention centres exist in the region: the one in Keszthely has a capacity for 505 participants, the other one, situated in the town of Balatonfured can host 1200 people.

In order to increase the utilization of hotel rooms, modernizing the conference and educational service of these, already existing hotels is of vital importance. On the other hand, newly built hotels must be designed with conference halls suitable for conventions and meetings. Furthermore, wellness and fitness service of hotels must be improved, so that participants could find programs in case of rainy weather. Hungarian Convention Bureau recommends 30 hotels around the lake with 3, 4 or 5-star rating and their halls can receive 65-1200 people.

Developing the quality of the program offer of the region is also inevitable. Obviously, this would also attract more conference participants. On the website of the Hungarian Convention Bureau the following programs can be found: boat trips, wine-tasting in the Festetics Castle in Keszthely, concerts, horse programs, visiting the holiday resort County Somogy's Garden. Beside these, further programs should also be introduced like visiting Lake Balaton Uplands National Park, bathing in the spa of Heviz, trekking, sailing, water-skiing, rowing, riding go-karts, Trabant rally, ballooning or pleasure flights above the lake.

Many experts believe that modernising the approachability of the region would be the easiest way of development. The region could also receive participants arriving by airplanes if airports, for instance, the ones of Siofok-Balatonkiliti or Szentkiralyszabadja could also welcome convention guests. This could be a real advantage in the field of welcoming guests from abroad. Improving the conditions of public road traffic on the northern shore of the lake, building a highway with more lanes would be particularly important. Regarding railroad traffic, waiting long hours between trains means the most serious problems. Harmonizing time-tables of traffic companies would be a solution to this problem.

7. Conclusion

A large number of lake destinations exist all over Europe with traditions of centuries. They await their guests with a wide variety of programs. Convention tourism is typical at Lake of Geneva, Lake Lugano, Lake Constance and the Worthersee. I have examined the activity of convention bureaus, service companies taking part in convention tourism, leisure time activities offered for participants and the approachability of settlements in order to find out the development of which factors is essential to improve conference tourism at lake Balaton.

In order to develop convention tourism in the Lake Balaton Region, the first step is setting up a convention bureau (or more bureaus) which represents (represent) the destination. Local destination management systems must be founded at the same time. An online event management system must also be established which forms and maintains the effective cooperation between the convention bureau and organizers and participants of conferences.

At least two new conference centres, each suitable for 1500-2000 participants must be built in the region. One of them must be built in Siofok, while the other one in Keszthely or Heviz, with a capacity suitable even for large international conventions. They must be positioned in the downtown of these towns. Improving the conference and educational services of hotels is particularly important but, new hotels must also be designed, with conference halls suitable for conventions.

Developing the approachability of the region is also of vital importance. Airports and public roads must be modernised, time-tables of the region's traffic companies must be harmonized.

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Horvath ZOLTAN, University of Pecs, Departement of Economic and Regional Studies, Hungary, 8621, Zamardi F6 ut 15.
Chart 1. The number of conference guests in the most important
holiday resorts in Hungary, in 2007

     The most important holiday resorts          The number of
                 in Hungary                    the guests in the
                                                 quarters/Pers

Budapest                                           2 543 811
Balaton udulokorzet partkozeli telepulesek         1 121 266
Balaton udulokorzet tovabbi telepulesek             155 615
Balaton udulokorzet egyutt                         1 276 881
Dunakanyar                                          171 866
Matra-Bukk                                          475 342
Mecsek es Villany                                   231 467
Sopron-Koszeghegyalja                               398 686
Tisza-to                                            28 976
Velencei to- Vertes                                 63 074
Egyeb, udulokorzetbe nem sorolt telepulesek        2 284 226
All in Hungary                                     7 474 329

     The most important holiday resorts        The number of
                 in Hungary                    the conference
                                                guests/Pers

Budapest                                          326 740
Balaton udulokorzet partkozeli telepulesek        136 361
Balaton udulokorzet tovabbi telepulesek            15 120
Balaton udulokorzet egyutt                        151 480
Dunakanyar                                         20 316
Matra-Bukk                                         33 181
Mecsek es Villany                                  24 677
Sopron-Koszeghegyalja                              11 720
Tisza-to                                            850
Velencei to- Vertes                                5 592
Egyeb, udulokorzetbe nem sorolt telepulesek       179 751
All in Hungary                                    754 308

Source: Office of county Veszprem, National Statistic Bureau
of Hungary, 2009
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Author:Zoltan, Horvath
Publication:Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EXHU
Date:Jul 1, 2009
Words:6024
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