Hungary’s largest online booking site acquires Czech peer

Hungary’s largest online booking site acquires Czech peer
Participants of the annual Balaton Sound festival at Lake Balaton, one of Hungary's top tourist attractions.
By Levente Szilagyi in Budapest July 8, 2019

Hungarian booking website Szallas.hu acquired sector peer Czech-based Hotel.cz group on July 8, making it the fifth market outside of Hungary, in line with its growth strategy.

Hungary’s tourism sector is flourishing and the industry is breaking records year in year out. Last year overnight stays exceeded 30mn, split equally between domestic and foreign guests. Domestic tourism is rising on the back of rising purchasing power of households, new hotel developments and by the use of SZEP recreational voucher cards. Parliament raised taxes on most fringe benefits from January 1, except for the cards that can be used for catering and hotel services.

The government declared its goal is to increase the share of the sector to reach 16% of GDP by 2030 from 10% at present.

Szallas.hu is the largest online booking site in Hungary, which now offers its services in six countries: Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. The company saw revenue rise 23% to HUF4.2bn in 2018, half of it coming from its foreign units.

The Czech company reported similar growth with sales rising 20-25% in recent years. Last year it posted HUF2.8bn in revenue. Hotel.cz offers some 6,000 accommodation facilities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which will be expanded by offers from Szallas.hu in Poland, Croatia and Hungary.

Szallas.hu is owned by PortfoLion, the venture capital company of OTP and Eximbank. The owners set the goal of making the online booking site the largest company in Central Europe by 2021.

The Hungarian company said non-organic growth this year will be funded with a capital injection from PortfoLion, bank credit and share swaps.

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