Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee Member (HUN)

Beyond all expectations, fans turned out in extremely huge numbers at the 17th FINA World Championships. More than 485,000 spectators filled the stands in the five venues and in the ceremonies during the 17-day showcase while further 400,000 enthusiasts visited the fan zones. Tourism surveys show such a boost even experts hardly believe.

“This event was an absolute success by all means” OC President and Minister of National Development Miklos Sesztak said.

The location of the press conference held by the organisers was a fitting one on the pool deck, though the silence in the Duna Arena was really strange compared to the previous days when the capacity crowd’s roars, according to a notable correspondent, were similar to minor earthquakes.

Open Water Venue - Balatonfüred

Organising Committee President and Minister of National Development Miklos Sesztak proudly announced that during the 17-day competitions and the opening and closing ceremonies 485,000 spectators filled the stands of the five plus two venues.

“All swimming final sessions were sold out technically, only some seats for complimentary ticket-holders might remain empty” Mr. Sesztak said.

“Each of the men’s water polo team’s matches went with capacity crowds which means 7,500 fans per evening. Apart from the first two days, all synchro sessions saw 5,000 spectators filling the tribunes which was a real but a very pleasant surprise.”

The President added that foreign visitors saw with amazement that the morning swimming heats drew an average of 7,200 attendees (including a 10,000 turnout on the first day of the competition), no tickets were available for the open water swimming and high diving events.

The last day of the diving meet became a historical moment as the men’s platform final was witnessed by 7,900 spectators, the largest crowd ever watching diving in Hungary (filling almost all seats alongside the empty swimming competition pool).

“Add 400,000 more who gathered in the fan zones and we are almost reaching a figure of 900,000 who wanted to be part of this experience” the minister said.

Duna Arena - Budapest

He added that on the penultimate day, shortly before the start of the water polo World Championship final between Hungary and Croatia, not only the fan zone but the entire Margaret Island had to be closed down by the authorities as more than 40,000 people showed up and tried to take a seat in front of the giant screens.

Together with Mayor Istvan Tarlos, fellow minister, responsible for sport, Zoltan Balog and Government Commissioner Balazs Furjes, Mr. Sesztak praised the impact the FINA World Championships had on tourism.

“Usually one visitor spends 2.3 days in Hungary, this figure has jumped to 9.3 during the event which is truly outstanding. Hoteliers benefited from a 25% rise of the prices” the head of the OC said.

City Park - Városliget Lake

According to the surveys, the tourists satisfaction was rated 8.3 on a 10-degree scale and they give the highest value for safety (8.4) which is outstanding nowadays.

“The general impression on Hungary changed positively for 40 percent of our visitors, especially for the comfort and safety factors. 66.3 percent would love to return as a visitor, not a participant of a sport event and what’s even better news that 83 percent would definitely suggest for others to visit Budapest” the minister concluded.

And the show is going on: within days the FINA World Masters Championships will begin at the very same venues where around 10,000 participants will hit the pools in five disciplines.

Some part of the competitions are really attractive for the spectators, especially when the Hungary’s legendary Olympic winning side, the water polo champions from Sydney 2000 grace the scene. The legendary players come together once more and play in the 40+ age-group. Almost 10,000 tickets were offered for the team’s four matches – the online sale lasted for only 12 minutes as the fans virtually swept all tickets like a whirlwind.