Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.
Stimulating tourism in the Hungarian region of Zemplén
In the hilly wine-growing region of Zemplén in north-eastern Hungary, authorities and NGOs on the ground have, in cooperation with the SDC, implemented a major programme aimed at developing tourism and stimulating the local economy.
Promoting economic growth and improving working conditions
Regional development and employment
- Construction and inauguration of the largest climbing wall in Hungary
- Creation of overnight accommodation for 60 people
- 29 regional jobs created
- Various tourist attractions restored (mill, wine cellar, glass-blowing workshop, museum, train for sightseeing)
- 30% increase in overnight stays between 2011 and 2016
- Cultural events planned and implemented (a total of 8 events within the project, instead of 3 as originally planned)
- Participation of the microregion as Guest of Honour at the 2015 Christmas Market in Montreux
- Revenues from tourist attractions, local products and entrance fees help to cover maintenance costs; cost recovery for wages, maintenance and communication is foreseen.
- National State Institute North
The programme will be implemented in the micro-region of Sátoraljaújhely which is part of "Northern Hungary", one of the two Swiss contribution's geographic focus regions. The micro-region consists of 19 settlements (2 towns and 17 municipalities) with total 24'600 inhabitants with its center and main city Sátoraljaújhely. The micro-region has a big tourism potential such as a beautiful environment around the Zemplén Mountains, hikeways, historical monuments, wine and gastronomical cultures. However, the micro-region is suffering high unemployment (15 % in 2010) above the country average. An important part of the innovative young generation is migrating to bigger cities or abroad.
The overall goal is a higher employment based on local resources and potentials. The increased tourism offer attracts substantially more tourists than in the past years. Together with the marketing of local products, a sizeable number of 44 additional and new jobs are directly created (without indirect effects).
Local government entities, key stakeholders in tourism development, local economy / producers (targeted indirectly), NGOs, young people.
The programme consists of one lead project and five supporting projects. The projects complement the already considerable existing tourist offer with new attractions such as a climbing centre and set up new distribution channels for local products.
|Directorate/federal office responsible||
Swiss Contribution to the enlarged EU
Foreign state institution
|Budget||Current phase Swiss budget CHF 2’509’159 Swiss disbursement to date CHF 2’505’468|
Phase 1 01.09.2012 - 31.12.2016 (Completed)
Tourism plays an undeniable economic role and, for many less-developed and developing countries and regions, represents a viable means towards sustainable economic development – particularly when the geographical areas in question have significant natural and cultural assets.
Situated in the north-eastern corner of Hungary near the Slovakian border, the region of Zemplén is a case in point. Although its unemployment rate is in excess of 15%, Zemplén boasts a rich cultural heritage, delightful countryside and an attractive culinary scene. Liaising with various local entities, the SDC is completing the implementation of a tourism development programme to complement the region’s existing infrastructure – an initiative in which Switzerland has invested CHF 2.5 million as part of its contribution to European Union enlargement. Initial results have been most encouraging.
Climbing walls, traditional water mill, and sightseeing train
Sátoraljaújhely – an important town in the Zemplén region – now has the biggest climbing centre in Hungary and the whole of Central Europe. Opened in 2015, the centre covers 300 square metres, with climbing walls of up to 21 metres in height. To encourage visitors from far afield, accommodation was built in immediate proximity to the centre. Given that the infrastructure is suitable for large-scale use by both professionals and amateur enthusiasts, the town now intends to organise international competitions and focus on attracting Hungarian school parties to the complex.
Only a short distance away, Swiss funding has also been used to renovate a two-hundred-year-old water mill – a medieval replica that houses a Hungarian family of bakers who make bread and cakes according to traditional methods as well as organising visits and other activities. In addition, the development programme has seen the inauguration of a brand-new miniature sightseeing train, which has been connecting the town of Sátoraljaújhely to the area’s main tourist sites since 2016. Several horse-drawn carriages have been purchased, providing tourists with an environmentally friendly means of transportation in good weather.
Attractions devoted to wine and other regional products
Sátoraljaújhely is situated in the heart of the Tokaj wine-growing district and, in broader terms, is the hub of a regional economy in which agriculture plays a significant role. In this context, the assistance provided by the SDC has resulted in the modernisation of visitor spaces and the construction of a small venue that houses exhibitions and activities related to wine. A number of shops have opened, selling regional products such as wine, cheese, preserves, honey and other local specialities. Producers benefit from marketing tools and from a sales network that helps them to market their goods and improve their sales.
As part of the programme, 29 jobs have been created to underpin the development of these new attractions. By spring 2017, a glass-blowing studio and an old post house converted into a museum and information point will have reopened their doors to the public.
Field trips and Hungarian culture in Switzerland
Since it began, the project has seen Switzerland and Hungary engaged in close collaboration. Switzerland has been leveraging its extensive experience in managing tourism in areas of natural beauty. On field trips to Schaffhausen, St. Gallen, Montreux and Saas-Fee, delegations from Sátoraljaújhely have been able to visit climbing halls, ride on sightseeing trains and partake in other activities that may provide inspiration in terms of managing their own infrastructure in future. For its part, Hungary has been showcasing its culture and traditions to the Swiss public. The country was guest of honour at the Montreux Christmas Market in 2015, subsequent to which a stand selling products from Sátoraljaújhely has now become a permanent fixture at the event.