Tihany, Veszprém County, Hungary

The municipality Tihany with its 1,358 inhabitants is located in the Veszprém county on a peninsula, which divides Lake Balaton into two pieces. The gorgeous location and impressive flora and fauna, which is of great value for the protection of nature and landscapes on both a national and international level, as well as a large number of historic-cultural sites such as the widely visible abbey, and a historically grown center as well as 72 landmarked objects are the special treasure of this municipality and attraction to about one Million tourists every year.

Despite, or because of its fame and its attractive landscape, Tihany has gone through an era of decay after 1990. The in-frastructure, expanded during the peeks of mass tourism, was aging, ecological quality and settling development were deficient and services as well as infrastructures were no longer up-to-date. This resulted in a major decrease in tourism and a declining number of overnight stays and also in a major economic and social depression.

Given these massive issues, the self-administration of Tihany started complex development work in 2006, aiming to holistically improve people’s quality of life and to increase the added value in the field of tourism. Within the “Workshop for Tihany’s future” and through the collaboration of citizens and external experts, a SWOT analysis was conducted. The analysis meticulously gathered strengths and weaknesses as well as poten-tials and dangers, and a comprehensive municipality development document as well as a touristic development program were worked out based on this data.

The ambitious development process was since promoted with exemplary commitment and vigilance and great persistence. It has already come to fruition as well: the technological infrastructure was improved mainly by the construction of canalization and the installation of energy-saving street lighting. Numerous identity-establishing organizational measures were taken – many of them having a calming effect on traffic and focusing on the aspect of barrier-freedom – such as the renewal of several public spaces in the historic settlement center, the redesign of footpaths, the creation of resting areas and the construction of a large parking lot on the outskirts of the settlement. These measures are valuable to both inhabitants and tourist. The construction of visitor centers for the national park and the abbey, the reconstruction of the open air thea-tre, the opening of a gallery and creation of further high-level cultural facilities contribute to the improvement of the quality of life, as do numerous educationally relevant initiatives, e.g. the initiation of a “green kindergarten”, an eco-school and a “student-laptop-program”.

Also worth mentioning is the public awareness of the population, which no longer considers the protection of the environment and nature a limitation but rather a neces-sity ad chance, and also the motivation of private hotel and gastronomy businesses to achieve high-quality, regionally oriented and sustainable improvement of their structur-al works and services. Other remarkable aspects are the equipment with social services, which accommodate the demographic change, as well as the cooperativeness with the close-by city Balatonfüred and with neighboring villages, which are considered partners rather than competi-tors. The self-governing body has developed into a service-oriented focal point for citizens.

Tihany is aware that, despite the numerous successes so far, there is still a long way ahead of them. Therefore, Tihany is planning to strengthen the inter-communal collabo-ration with municipalities nearby Lake Balaton that are facing similar problems.

Furthermore, the creation of landing spaces for sailing boats, as well as attractive changes to the beach and the area around the ferry port are being planned in close collaboration with the Technical University Budapest. The contributions to an idea competition among students of the faculty of Architecture were turned into an exhibition that is open to everyone who is interested. The Lake Balaton municipality also wants to expand its economic basis through the production, processing and marketing of local products – e. g.: with the construction of a lavender-manufacture.

Since the beginning of the development process in 2006, Tihany succeeded to overcome its phases of stagnation and to improve the people’s quality of life by realizing many projects. Basis for the success was the outstanding commitment of the municipality’s decision makers, the intense collaboration with the inhabitants, the advice from experts and also a sustainable vision, which relies on tradition just as much as it relies on innovation. “Lead a better life” is no longer a motto in Tihany, it has become reality.

Evaluated: 2014