Strengthening public participation in the tourism development of the Lake Tisza region
Description of the Lake Tisza region
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 (13%); 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.
Objective of the project
The overall objective of the program has been to enable the decision-makers and stakeholders of this region to initiate regional development programs with sustainable tourism as a fully integrated component, where nature conservation and the long-term interest of local communities are completely taken into account. In this matter, the program is striving for a balanced consideration of environmental and socio-economic aspects.
Therefore education and capacity-building for local governments and decision-makers have been an important element of the program, to present and promote model projects for local sustainability, with a focus on the adverse impacts of uncontrolled tourism development and the possible alternatives for preventing or mitigating these impacts.
Another objective of the program has been the initiation of dialogue and the establishment of partnerships among the different stakeholders, the promotion of public participation and a multi-stakeholder approach in the planning and implementation of tourism activities and development.
The target group of the program has been the full population of the Middle Tisza region, as the sustainable use of natural resources is closely related with other activities and other forms of land-use as well, including agriculture, fishery, fruit production etc. As such, all people living in the area should be fully aware of the possibilities and threats of tourism development, because they have to face these challenges as the inhabitants of a fast-growing destination. At the same time they benefit the most from the program, because their livelihoods are improved through the integration of sustainability considerations into local development programs. The affected Tiszafüred microregion includes 13 settlements with 40.5 thousand inhabitants.
Another significant target group is the anglers visiting and fishing at the lake, meaning more than 10 thousand people during the annual fishing season.
The group of decision-makers, planners of tourism development and tourism entrepreneurs has been a highly important target audience of the program. This group includes the local governments of the affected 13 settlements, but decision-makers will be also invited from the county and regional level.
For achieving the set target the most effective and cost-efficient tools have been chosen from the toolkit available for civil society:
The program has been implemented in partnership with other NGOs: