Often described as the "Jewel of the Danube," Budapest's thousand-year-old history and modern-day conveniences create the complete package for business and leisure travelers. It's no surprise that the city is seeing a surge in popularity and tremendous growth, ranking number 3 on MasterCard's 2008 Emerging Markets Index and as the most liveable city on the EIU's Quality of Life Index in 2009. Budapest attracts roughly 20 million visitors a year and hosted enough meetings to land it the number 6 spot on the International Congress & Convention Association's 2008 list of city rankings.
To meet its growing role as political, cultural and economic hub of Hungary, Budapest has dedicated much money and focus to providing areas to conduct business. Notably, the popular Budapest Sportarena opened in 2003 to become one of the most popular venues in the city for entertainment acts, sports events and more. Give guests the ultimate VIP treatment by hosting an event in one of the arena's posh suites, which feature private access, separate parking and exclusive catering and bar service.
Additionally, the Budapest Congress & World Trade Center underwent a €10 million renovation in 2005. Now one of the city's leading meeting facilities for international business conferences and events, the center features 4,000 square meters of exhibition space and 20 versatile rooms, the largest of which holds up to 2,000 attendees. Plus, the Hotel Novotel Budapest Congress, attached to the center via walkway, offers an additional 19 conference rooms and 319 guest rooms.
Outside of the boardroom, planners find plenty of opportunities to treat their meeting guests to authentic Budapest experiences. Charter a cruise boat with MAHART PassNave, which offers packages for dinners and buffets of up to 220 guests by sea. A popular way to experience the city, MAHART has hosted press conferences, receptions and state events that have included notable guests such as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Elizabeth II, Queen of England, and the king of Malaysia and his family.
Back on land, Budapest's special event venues are no less regal. In fact, Budapest's Royal Palace is home to the event-friendly Hungarian National Museum. Plan a night of dinner and dancing at the museum's Ceremonial Hall and Dome, or plan a performance at its Roman Lapidary, which resembles the layout of an ancient Roman Villa. The historic Gundel Restaurant, where such famed figures as Pope John Paul II have dined, also welcomes large groups in its 10 private rooms.
Offering more than just a dizzying array of stately meeting venues, Budapest also attracts event planners and business travelers with its ease of access. Budapest Airport, which serves several low-cost airlines, is located just 20 minutes from downtown and is connected to the city via public bus and train. Once inside the city, Budapest's extensive public transportation system is an affordable, efficient method for traversing the city's major attractions and hotels.
International trade is a major contributor to the Hungarian economy, and Budapest has done well to grow to meet this demand. With accessible international transport links, business headquarters throughout the city, a thriving tourism industry and 15 academic institutions, the city is set for rapid economic growth when the euro is adopted no later than 2014.