The communities of Lake Balaton Uplands have experienced unprecedented changes in their lifestyle and economic structure over the last century. These communities are facing new challenges related to their time-honoured, traditional practices and increased gentrification. Barbara Bozsik, the representative of KÉK (Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre), talked about the newly risen problems and their possible solutions for napi.hu in an interview.
KÉK (Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre) is an independent professional institution focusing on architecture, the existing environment, urban development, and their relation to the Lake Balaton communities. Their participation in Tajtéka programme has the main goal to shed light on the issues related to employment, agriculture, depopulation and mass tourism. They also aim to find possible solutions to these problems. The most burning issue is the lack of job opportunities during off-peak due to seasonal tourism. Hospitality workers struggle to make ends meet off-season while employers also find it hard to hire a reliable workforce for the new season.
In the Lake Balaton region, only a handful of restaurants remain open all year round but that decision mostly favours the locals, not the owners’ pockets. Hence, restaurants and pubs seem to fail to fulfill their main functions, one of which is providing a place for members of the local communities to gather together and maintain friendships. This tendency is not only disadvantageous for the employees and employers of the local hospitability facilities, but it is causing the local networks to disrupt as well. Another problem that is also related to seasonal tourism is the boom of foreign investments that push up prices in all areas. These trends also make conventional agriculture jobs less attractive for the locals and newcomers. This is problematic for two reasons. In the past, the traditional grazing practices would ecologically fit the given qualities of the land and were, therefore, more sustainable than the current resource-exhaustive techniques that focus on rapid growth. There are already a significant number of traditional vineries that are losing their production areas.
In order to have the means to offer a good life perspective to the younger generation, members of the local communities have to take action to preserve the traditional practices. According to Barbara Bozsik, young people could ideally leave for studies and come back with newly acquired skills and knowledge that will benefit local agriculture. However, this has to be made possible by municipalities and businesses. The study carried out by KÉK suggests that local communities should calculate carefully the number of tourists they can welcome within one season. They also propose that the most effective practice would be the so-called quiet tourism, which encourages visitors to participate in local projects and get in touch with the rich heritage of the region.
Author: Màrton Berettyàn
Source: napi.hu, penzcentrum.hu