Tamara Ratz* - Kodolanyi Janos University of Applied Sciences
Gabor Michalko - Geographical Institute, Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Due to its geographical location in the center of Europe, its accession to the European Union in 2004 and to the Schengen Treaty in 2008, and the strong and complex network of social and political ties with its neighbors, Hungary, a country with a population of less than 10 million people is visited by about 40 million foreigners annually, only app. 20% of which can be regarded as tourists in the conventional sense. The remaining 80% participate in "invisible tourism" activities, i.e. are not registered by commercial accommodation providers and their tourism behavior - e.g. consumption patterns, motivation, geographical distribution – is largely unexplored, despite their potential significance in Hungarian tourism development.
The proposed paper is based on the preliminary findings of a 4-year research project (2012-2016) supported by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund. In addition to discuss the conceptual challenges in defining the notion of invisible tourism, it presents the travel patterns, motivations and consumption characteristics of a specific tourist segment: cross-border VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) travelers.