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Comparing water tourism regulations on the Slovakian-Hungarian border

Zoltán Herke works as a Project Manager at Arrabona EGTC, a cross-border structure overseeing cooperation in a territory spanning 1,100 square kilometres along the Hungarian-Slovakian border and encompassing a population of 261,908.


“The main objective of the EGTC is to strengthen economic and social cohesion, to promote cross-border cooperation between its members, and to contribute to preserving and maintaining the balance of the Danube Valley as an ecosystem. Therefore, the EGTC has the specific objective of implementing programmes and projects in the field of territorial cooperation, co-financed by the European Union, and developing social and technical infrastructure”, Zoltán explains.


Arrabona EGTC previously sought b-solutions’ support in addressing complex issues related to social security coordination for cross-border workers and pensioners, as well as the cross-border sharing of municipal management services. Through this experience, Zoltán has become familiar with the b-solutions initiative, leading him to apply again in 2023 after he identified a new obstacle.


“Exceptional chances for water tourism along the Hungarian-Slovak border are provided by the Danube river and its natural branch system. However, due to disparate water hiking legislations between the two countries, cross-border tourism does not reach its full potential. For example, the age-related requirement to wear a life jacket and personal conditions for operating watercraft are different in Slovakia and in Hungary”, he said.


Colleagues from the Central European Service for Cross-Border Initiatives (CESCI) were entrusted with a crucial mission: to explore ways of harmonising water tourism regulations and foster cross-border tourism along the Hungarian-Slovak border.


“The advice case analysis was thorough and detailed. Experts with both practical and theoretical knowledge on the subject were contacted,” Zoltán stressed.


A tailored analysis of the obstacles relying on interviews made with relevant stakeholders and local experts allowed CESCI to suggest a range of strategic actions that can be put into practice:

 -       Creating information points: establishing accessible information hubs to guide tourists and enhance their experience.

-       Organising working meetings between authorities: facilitating collaboration among relevant bodies to streamline processes.

-       Linking training systems for tour guides: ensuring well-prepared guides who can navigate the cross-border territory.

-       Coordinating initiatives in water tourism: encouraging joint efforts to promote water-based activities.

-       Developing a common procedural system through a one-stop-shop offering guidance for water management and nature protection.

-       Allowing permanent permits and rating systems for water tourism businesses: supporting sustainable businesses in the sector.


A long-term solution could be the creation of a joint national park in the Szigetköz-Csallóköz region, where water hiking regulations would be harmonised. This ambitious endeavour aims to preserve the natural beauty of the region while facilitating cross-border tourism.


These solutions require political will from both sides of the border. That is why Zoltán and his team are committed to raise this issue by proposing a joint workshop involving competent authorities.


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