My name is Tihamér Horváth and this is my story…
I was born near Lake Balaton, often called ´the Hungarian sea´, which is one of the main tourist attractions of Hungary. I lived, and I am still living, in Gyenesdiás where my forefathers had lived all their lives. Hopefully my descendants will also live here as I firmly believe that the spirit of our antecedents provide us especially strong roots and inspiration in unexpected crossroad situations in our life.
Though my family never worked in the tourism business, the atmosphere surrounding us had great influence on our everyday life. Warm and devoted hospitality was something my mother and my family taught me. The love for pleasant, peaceful and emotional togetherness with kind people, as well as the mission for improving the life and the environment
of our community was the most valuable heritage I received from my parents.
Having finished my secondary school studies I became a pipe- fitter. Later on I learnt all kinds of crafts connected to it. I thought the construction business would be a lifelong career for me. I with my brother founded a company that soon became quite prosperous. One day we started refurbishment works in the public utilities of a very little village, called Kehidakustány. At that time, this tiny settlement was a poor, sleepy place whose inhabitants worked in the fields. This village had an old thermal medical bath with special curing water inside: very hot sulphurous hydrogen carbonated water for rheumatic and muscular disorders, gynaecological diseases and skin ailments.
One morning I woke up and thought: there is this special natural resource that could cure thousands of people. By developing it into a ‘fun-and-spa resort’ it could be a new tourist destination in the region, providing hundreds of jobs for the local community in tourism. I was so excited to share my medical tourism idea with my brother but he was quite sceptical as tourism, and especially spas and wellness, were totally unknown to us. But we were professionals in the construction business, and we had all the resources necessary for reconstruction.
In a few years’ time, partly supported by government development funds, we built our dreamland – a beautiful spa complex in the middle of an earlier agricultural area.
The people living in the village were extremely excited about putting their settlement on the country’s tourism map, and started to study tourism. As supplementary service providers, some of them built accommodation; others opened restaurants or shops around it.
The picture of the village changed completely. More and more inhabitants became our employees, while others established their own entrepreneurships and started to work in tourism too. One day, I looked around and felt astonishingly happy to see how beautiful this little village has become, to see how the complete economy of this community changed.
Now I am 64 years old and retired, and still I work hard every day. However, I am consciously preparing for slowing down my life soon. Tourism also helped to make this in a happy, comforted mood, by finding new goals for myself. Every day, strength is given to me by this environment, and visitors also get a slice of it, because the goods produced here are served for them in the restaurant of the resort.
My children also work in Kehida Termal. They are educated tourism experts who will continue the business. I am so proud to see that besides learning about tourism, their attitude to the community’s life, their sense of responsibility for local matters and economy, is just like the pattern inherited from my parents and ancestors. Now I know that the tourism I introduced to my family’s life is a perfect field for expressing our social responsibilities, and our loyalty towards the community we belong to.