Strengthening public participation in the tourism development of the Lake Tisza region

    Nimfea Environment and Nature Conservation Association is implementing a project in the region of the Tisza Lake to raise awareness on the threats and opportunities of tourism development and to promote a multi-stakeholder approach in rural development, building on the needs and interests of the local community, while preserving the unique natural values of the lake.

    The Lake Tisza is a lake artificially created thanks to the construction of the irrigation system and the related dam. However the area became an important wetland habitat rich in biodiversity, especially significant for migrating birds. This fact was also recognized by the establishment of the nature reserve in the northern part of the lake, belonging under the supervision of the Hortobagy National Park. This section of the river Tisza is also protected under the Ramsar Convention (Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat). At the same time the lake is a preferred site for angling, and also hosting holiday resorts with motorboats, jetskis and other water sports.
   The microregion is characterized by a high unemployment rate; the infrastructural indicators are the worst and economic activity is the lowest in the county. Most of the municipalities regard tourism development as a solution for the economic and social decline, although the negative impacts of not well planned and not appropriately controlled tourism are already visible. In this context of different interest groups and the resulting conflicts, it is quite complicated to put forward and implement measures to promote the sustainability of tourism.
This is the reason Nimfea Environment and Nature Conservation Association submitted a project proposal to PHARE Access, which was approved and started in July 2005. Now the project also gained the generous support of the Swiss Foundation for Solidarity in Tourism, enabling us to enhance the media activities and strengthen the public outreach of the program.
    With this project we would like to underline that tourism development should be an integrated part of comprehensive regional development initiatives, and not a goal in itself. We would like to draw the attention of decision-makers, the local people, the visitors, farmers and everyone affected, that the natural values of the region are the basis for tourism, but also for livelihood in general, therefore nature conservation should also be taken into account.
In order to start dialogue about tourism development and other alternative solutions for the improvement of local living conditions, a seminar series is organized for local governments and decision-makers, as well as for local entrepreneurs to present and promote model projects for local sustainability, with a focus on the adverse impacts of uncontrolled tourism development, with a complex approach including environmental and socio-economic aspects.
Since July most of the project activities have taken place. Brochures have been distributed with a "code of conduct" for tourists and anglers, introducing the basics of responsible behaviour. T-shirts have been printed presenting the Tisza mayfly (Palingenia longicauda), This mayfly is the largest one in Europe, spending three years of their life in larvae form in the mud, then hatch in masses in each June on certain sections of the Tisza and mate during their short, three-hour long life.
    Several lectures were held for school children about the natural values of the region, school groups were collecting waste in and around the shores of the lake, a nature photography exhibition has been organized, seminars and workshops were held in the Town Hall of Tiszafüred for different target groups, including decision-makers, local entrepreneurs, hotel and camping managers, tour operators and other stakeholders. All these programmes were implemented with the effective coordination of our local partners, and with the continuous support of the mayor of Tiszafüred. We hope that the thoughts and ideas shared will serve the long-term benefit of the entire region of the Lake Tisza.


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