Tourism has been going through radical changes, both from the aspect of demand and supply. Mass tourism has become widespread, but quality tourism is also getting more and more important. Declared target of the tourist industry is to lengthen the tourist season in time and expand it areawise. Special accommodations, compatible with the social media, are all the rage, they offer varied experiences of recreation and entertainment in the safest possible circumstances. The specialists of Középülettervező Zrt. (KÖZTI) tell about the challenges the changing trends of tourism mean for architecture.
Hotels without staff
There are many types of accommodation, from the Japanese capsule hotels to luxury hotels offering 50-60 sqm suites, or special, isolated, 250 sqm suites with all kinds of extras and exclusive, private staff. Zoltán Tima, senior architect of KÖZTI, thinks that the middle way between these two extreme ends will be the spread of the fully automated city hotels, and the reason for this is not the pandemic scare, but the scarce and expensive manpower. These ’smart hotels’ need no staff, check-in and check-out is automatic through multifunctional smart phones, pre-packed breakfasts are dispensed by machines. This way, when necessary, they can help social distancing and minimizing contact, but serve tourism at the same time, similarly to the contactless payment, which has quickly gained ground owing to the Covid pandemic.
Buildings for the bucket list
Many 20th century or contemporary buildings are tourist attractions on their own right, sometimes they are directly built for this purpose. Best known among them is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which has made this dull industrial city one of the hottest tourist destinations of Spain. There are two tendencies concerning these buildings. In the first case, the developer commissions an international star architect to design a ’bucket list building’. In the second case, a museum authorizes the use of its name and loans artworks, so an otherwise uninteresting place can get on the tourist map. The Louvre in Abu Dhabi has been established this way. To create an attraction like this, needs more than just a decision. Bucket list buildings need tourist-friendly environment and infrastructure, programs and up-to-date marketing.
Stand out from the mass – the trend of uniqueness
Today, the new museums, hotels and even the winery buildings can be significant works of architecture, besides serving their primary functions. Hotel Bambara at Felsőtárkány, designed by senior architect Péter Pottyondy, resembles the mud structures of West Africa and it is very popular, owing to its functionality and high standard management. The five star Hotel Corinthia Royal in Budapest is a historic reconstruction, but an up-to-date luxury hotel at the same time, with significant conference capacity. The Hilton Budapest in the Castle District has been completed with a roof terrace of unique ambience, which has fabulous views over the whole city. It is an obvious trend, that the managers of the touristically relevant buildings – such as hotels, historic buildings, museums and recreational facilities – want to provide more and more experiences for recreation and entertainment, so the architects have to create and ambience where the guests can enjoy themselves for a long time.
Visitor centres for the protection of historic monuments
It is not allowed to make any alterations in protected historic buildings for the sake of increasing the tourist flow. On the contrary, the number of visitors has to be limited in many cases. As these traditional sights attract huge masses in steadily increasing numbers, providing them with information and other services have to take place outside. A good example for this is the House of Parliament Visitor Centre, built underground, next to the protected building. All those tourist infrastructure functions (exhibition halls, cafeteria, toilets and other service areas) are located here, which couldn’t be accommodated in the Parliament.
State of transition, escaping forward during the forced intermission
Both the continuous growth of tourism and the counter-measures brought about by the more and more common ’tourist overflow’ have been temporarily postponed by the Covid pandemic. The operators of the tourist industry are waiting to give new impetus to tourism, so all those accommodations, restaurants, recreational and entertainment venues, which are being built, refurbished or altered for a new function, are needed and will be needed in the future. Developments haven’t stopped, the first really five star wellness hotel of Lake Balaton, with outstanding architecture and services, is just being built at Balatonfüred. This is a definite step towards quality tourism.