Can Ecotourism Save Hungary?

Our trip to Hungary feels like we’ve arrived at a friend’s new home but he is still busy banging nails, hanging up photos and moving in boxes. The country is primed to be an eco-tourism destination, and in the bleak great plains, they are working long days to get it ready. We took a boat to see a newly built system of wooden walkways stretching 1500 meters out over the water into a marsh to be used for birdwatching. This area used to have workers toiling on state farms, but since ‘the political changes,’ as the fall of communism is called, these farms, like many steel mills, are no longer. I asked our guide at the Hortobaby Nemzeti Park how many locals they employ. The answer was that this is really the only work around.

The other new project that may someday pay dividends is the cave walk that has been built 275 steps down near the lovely town of Eger. We took a hike for 2 kilometers underground, where we saw stalagmites, stalagtites, and only a few other visitors. It has been open for all of four days! Tourism is proving to be the only way more and more of these soft economies can prosper, and Hungary, like the rest of the poorer parts of the world, is determined to get their fair share.