Hungarian hospitality industry mobilises to fight coronavirus

Hungary: With Budapest’s streets empty due to the impact of coronavirus, the Hungarian hospitality industry has responded by mobilised its services to support healthcare workers, the sick and the elderly.

In the capital city, a group of Airbnb operators have joined together on Facebook to provide accommodation to medical workers. The capital has around 10,000 Airbnb units, and the group itself has over 1,200 members.

Viktoria Hojer-Szabo, a Budapest host told Reuters: “We think that those who can should help those who are doing the actual work with action, with money, with kind words – we have no idea from the four walls at home about the hardships that the health workers are going through now.”

The group’s page says it aims to help those workers move away from their families to help keep them safe.

She is one of 43 operators currently housing healthcare workers in Budapest. As the government has begun fast-tracking its medical students, and with healthcare workers worrying about their families, demand for these offerings may soon rise

A hotel manager in the central Hungarian region of Lake Balatoth has done the same, allowing those returning from work abroad to self-isolate.

Gergely Toth, manager of Hotel Sunshine, said: “I assumed they would not have the means to self-isolate themselves from their family here.”

There are 39 seasonal workers who are not only being provided accommodation, but free food as well. Other elements of the industry have moved to support those round them, such as pizza shops making free deliveries to the elderly, and civilians volunteering to feed and support medical staff.

With the global hospitality industry largely in flux due to the virus, platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo are adapting their refund policies to give full or partial refunds due to the number of virus-related cancellations.

However, the industry is uniting as a community, with Airbnb notably announcing a plan to house Italian medics free of charge.