«The conurbation around the capital located on both sides of the middle section of the Danube is a metropolitan area of international importance while ...»
Position of the DATOURWAY area
The target area in Hungary includes a total of seven riparian counties
whose population (including that of Budapest) accounts for 52% of
Hungary’s overall population on the 37% of the country’s territory.
The analysis of settlements in the region should initially identify
functional urban areas.
The conurbation around the capital located on both sides of the
middle section of the Danube is a metropolitan area of international
importance while Budapest is a national complex functional centre.
Transdanubia within the region examined includes three other urban areas of national importance (Győr, Székesfehérvár and Pécs and their surroundings). However, the eastern side, the Great Plain of the Danube Region lacks such areas completely. In rural areas in the southern part of Transdanubia very small villages while on the other side of the Danube separated farms are dominant.
A major development axis in the Danube region is the Vienna- 1 Bratislava-Budapest line that is copied by the track of the M1 Motorway. However, this development axis diverts from the Danube below Budapest and exits this region to the south, heading towards Székesfehérvár – Zagreb (M7), Szeged - Belgrade (M5) and Miskolc (M3) in the north. Hungary’s main transport corridors (motorways) follow the development axis which means Hungary’s western entrance is located along the Danube but its exit is positioned east of the Danube, closer to the Tisza.
Although the M6 Motorway runs parallel to the Danube to the south, it will only rise to higher significance when it has reached Ploce in Croatia. In the Danube Region developments, the connection of M6 to the Vienna-Budapest development axis will have a crucial role where Dunaújváros could be of key importance.
Despite the fact that Hungary’s capital, situated on either side of the Danube is the exclusive centre of the country, the Danube running in the middle of the county, continues to divide the country instead of serving as a link, from ancient times. The Danube is not only a natural but also a cultural border, in terms of ethnology and landscape management as well. Difficulties in crossing the river continue to separate the two sides even today and the administrative units (the region and the counties) that also follow the line of the Danube (with the exception of Pest county) lead to even stronger division.
Recent motorway constructions increased the number of road connections between the two sides: two new bridges have been added to the existing two south of M0 around Budapest. However, areas on both sides along the south section of the Danube, in particular on the eastern side, (sub-regions of Kunszentmiklós, Kalocsa and Baja) remain internal peripheries.
The National Tourism Development Strategy’s conclusions regarding the Danube Region conclude that those neighbouring Central European countries which have a similar or better collection of natural and built-up tourist attractions than Hungary and 2 continue to improve these (Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia) are extremely fierce rivals in the tourism industry and are responsible for lower demand. However, regional cooperation with these competitors - as in case of the Visegrád Group – contributes to the stronger and more efficient presentation of this area as a single region.
Hungary’s rivers and lakes offer a great potential for water tourism.
The navigable length of the Danube totals 412 km within Hungary.
Both the use of motor boats and water touring require extensive service infrastructure which is only partly available at present.
The international Rhine-Main-Danube canal offers excellent opportunities but the construction of the Gabčikovo dam led to an immense fall in the traffic of smaller boats badly hitting previously flourishing water tourism. This also had an adverse effect on infrastructure resulting in the shutdown of many ports due to the reduced traffic. Quality services to receive and to attend to water tourists with motor-driven boats are unavailable on Hungary’s larger rivers. The bicycle road along the Danube connecting Vienna and Budapest has only been partly built. Foreign tourists travelling by bicycle prefer Slovakia where bicycle roads are more complete and of better quality. Moreover, the adequate cycling services (such as repair services, accommodation, etc.) are also lacking in Hungary.
The key objective of the National Tourism Development Strategy is to improve the quality of life through the means of tourism. In order to improve the quality of life and promote long term and sustainable development, a balance must be insured between tourism and its economic, social and natural environment that may be achieved through the realization of the following comprehensive objectives (pillars).
I. Human-oriented and in the long term profit-making development II. Attraction development III. Improvement of conditions for tourist reception IV. Human resource development V. Development of efficient operations
Geographical characteristics The territory of Hungary as a whole is part of the catchment area of river Danube and lies in its central part. The Danube is therefore essential for the social and economic life of this country.
Owing to its natural resources and economic potentials the DATOURWAY area is of high importance in the national economy.
The rich natural resources include minerals, row material for manufacturing and building industries, surface and sub-surface water reserves. Climate features and their temporal distribution are favourable for agricultural production; there are large areas with excellent conditions for cultivation; the ecological characteristics are suitable for tourism too; the morphology of the terrain offers broad possibilities for land use, industrial and urban development.
The counties along the Danube comprise 6 National Parks, 16 protected landscapes and 61 nature conservation sites. The establishment of a network of forest reserves and relevant research began after 1990. Today the national network comprises 63 forest reserves, 27 of which are in the counties along the Danube.
The network of NATURA 2000 will contribute to sustainable rural development through the increase of rural employment, offer of alternative rearming, promotion of rural tourist attractiveness, markets of bio products and appropriate agro-environmental measures. Several Hungarian examples demonstrate the economic benefits of the protection and management of natural heritage.
4 The Danube, the largest river in the European Union with abundant habitats on the islands and nets of river branches is a common European asset. In Hungary the section of the Danube is 412 km long, 60 % of the banks are natural and – with the exception of those in the capital city – are components of the European NATURA 2000 network. Between Szap and the southern national border there are altogether 53 islands as well as branches, oxbows. In the counties along the Danube the Ramsari areas – designated for the maintenance of water eco-systems and protected by international agreements – extend to 19 thousand hectares in total. Furthermore there are 3 bio reserves (UNESCO-MAB) too.
Tourism has gradually grown into the most important sector in terms of job-creation, as well as a leading economic sector with a growth rate exceeding that of the global economy. Tourism can provide a future for economic development for a country, a region, a town or a village. The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) forecasts that the contribution of tourism revenues to the GDP will rise from 10% today to 13% in 2020 (with tourist arrivals rising threefold). At
Despite its favourable potentials, the Hungarian tourism sector faces many a problem, such as the amount of per capita spending, a medium-scale figure by European standards, the strong seasonality factor, as well as the high level of geographical concentration. These can be explained by several factors, such as the insufficient quality and quantity of tourism supply, the inappropriate conditions of tourist welcome services, outdated training skills and the underdeveloped operational structure of the tourism sector (a well-coordinated organisational system with appropriate financing, responsible for the development of tourism destination areas and management, with clearly designated competencies and professional skills). The establishment of a decentralised organisational system based on tourism welcome 6 areas, that is destinations (tourists’ travel destinations) is a precondition of recreating the Hungarian tourism sector as a sustainable and compatible industry.
Due to its vicinity to the border, as well as its situation in terms of transportation geography and spatial structure, Győr-MosonSopron county serves as a gate with respect to tourism arriving to Hungary from the West. As a result, there is a significant amount of transit and shopping tourism, though the latter is experiencing a gradual decline.
Aside from busy tourism corridors and a transit function, the county plays a notable role in tourism due to its built attractions of international and regional significance, folk traditions, its 50 castles and mansions, as well as its castle hotel and cultural events. Two world heritage sites are also to be found here: the Millenarian Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma and its adjacent natural environment, and the cross-border cultural landscape of Fertő/Neusiedlersee, shared with Austria. The county is rich in natural values and holiday resorts of national attraction, as well as sites for active and green tourism, such as cycling opportunities and water tourism both on the Danube and Lake Fertő. Medicaland thermal baths, excellent potentials with respect to wine and gastronomy and the conference centres under construction also add to the county’s tourism charm. Győr and Sopron, its two cities with county status, are major tourist attractions.
Due to its vicinity to the border Komárom-Esztergom county is a link between South Slovakia, the Northern part of West Transdanubia and the Pilis and the Danube Bend areas of Budapest’s agglomeration. There is a significant transit traffic on the M1 motorway towards the East-West directions. The Danube area used to be part of what was once a coherent industrial axis of Hungary but is by now more sporadic in terms of industrial activity.
Nevertheless, environmental burden is very high in this area up to this date. Other parts (Vértes, Gerecse premountains) of the county 7 have also been industrialised and urbanised to a great degree, with a serious level of environmental burden in several areas. The priority tourism types in these areas should be those – softer, gentler and therefore greener – aspects that will sustain the ever more vulnerable natural values of the target areas on the long-run.
Consequently, the tourism industry has not invaded the Danube area – the only places with more significant tourism presence are around the Danube Bend area (Esztergom, Dömös). The natural landscapes (e.g.: Danube Bend, Gerecse, Vértes, Bakonyalja) and cultural and church-related values of the county are excellent potential appeals for tourism.
Komárom-Esztergom county is one of the most intense “heritage sites” in Hungary in terms of archaeological remains and built values left behind from the Roman times. It is the cradle of Hungarian ‘statedom’, and as such, all the prints of the destinies of the Duna-mellék area are imprinted in its cultural values and traditions (e.g.: Esztergom Castle, Cathedral, Fort Komárom, all of which are world heritage sites). The county is rich in both natural and landscape heritage. It has a biosphere reserve, a national park, an area protected under an international convention and a vast area of protected or so far not protected, but valuable hidden gems (Duna-Ipoly National Park; Vértes Nature Park, the planned Bakonyalja Nature Park and Gerecse Nature Park). At the same time, Komárom-Esztergom county is famous not only for its natural heritage but also its surface subsidances and the negative aspects of urban landscape. These could be involved under the tourism umbrella via rehabilitation (Oroszlány Mining Museum).
Pest county, also known as the Central Hungarian (Statistical) and the Budapest-Middle-Danube (Tourism) Region is often call the “heart” of Hungary. All the major railway lines are headed towards Budapest, all the main roads of national scale intersect here, and the geographical centre of Hungary, Pusztavacs is also located here.
Pest county is the economically most highly developed region of Hungary.
8 Despite its relatively high level of development, the region faces significant internal imbalances: there are economic (and tourismrelated) discrepancies between the Budapest Agglomeration and the outskirts of Pest county. Its tourism importance and appeal is determined by the popularity of Budapest, the Danube Bend area and the Ráckeve Danube-stretch. Over third of the total guest traffic, and over half of international guest traffic is realised in this area.
Pest county and Budapest have excellent tourism potentials. The population is exploring the opportunities hidden in the leisure industry, the area is part of an international tourism corridor, with a highly developed tourism infrastructure in comparison with other regions, seasonality is less typical but tourism activities are geographically concentrated in Budapest. Its international appeal involves: complex services of relatively high quality, built heritage, festivals/events, medical- and thermal waters, business tourism, sightseeing tourism. The international appeal of the region is focused in Budapest, while the area outside of the capital have attractions of a different (national, regional) level.
There is no institutionalised cooperation between the different fields and actors of the tourism sector, no joint lobbying activities of Budapest and the other areas, and no cooperation between municipalities and entrepreneurs.