The Development of Tourism on the Danube in Hungary to Reduce Dependence on Cars

The Development of Tourism on the Danube in Hungary to Reduce Dependence on Cars


M Jászberényi, Budapest Corvinus University, HU


A brief description and initial results of the project Development of tourism on the Danube are presented in this paper. This project is aiming to define and promote sustainable solutions, reduce car dependency for domestic tourism and day trips.


The river Danube has been one of the most important transport links in Europe for centuries. Currently, it constitutes the EU Transport Corridor VII. Opportunities offered by the Danube in the context of transport are not exploited, neither for the purposes of tourism, nor for regular commuter transport, even though waterways provide a wide variety of alternatives to reduce dependence on cars and ensure sustainability.
The aim of the paper is to shed light upon the opportunities provided by waterways in the area of environmentally friendly alternatives that take sustainability into account. Passenger transport by water is primarily carried out by MAHART PassNave Ltd. on the Hungarian section of the Danube. In my paper I will outline the findings of a research which originally aimed to gauge the demand for the services offered by the company and then, in accordance with the findings, propose measures to boost demand.

In the first phase of the research launched in 2007, and then continued in 2009, we examined tourists to see who participate in the various programs offered by MAHART PassNave Ltd., what is the composition of tourists, what is the motivation of their travel, what are their sources of information, etc. We found that one-day inland cruises are mostly chosen by families from Budapest, with higher than average level of qualification. As opposed to the examples of metropolises with similar features abroad (London, Paris), the ratio of domestic tourists is extremely high. When taking their decisions on travel, an important consideration is their wish to try a new transport mode, and the potentially linked cultural services. A further important point is the high ratio of „frequenters” (tourists who return), and marketing by the word of mouth, which is a necessary supplement of online advertising. Proper marketing policy in the future might contribute to making cruising, as an environmentally friendly branch of tourism worthy of support, attractive for an ever increasing target group. At the same time, special emphasis should be put on making cruises popular among foreign visitors. Budapest and the Danube are inextricably linked, the Danube with her bridges and the Danube panorama, a World Heritage site. We made proposals concerning the necessary measures to increase the participation of foreign visitors in cruises (sightseeing by ship) and tours to explore the sights in the neighborhood of Budapest.

Our research also proved that opportunities to develop tourist destinations along the Danube abound. In addition to traditional destinations (Budapest and the Danube-bend to the north of Budapest) there are huge potentials in the destinations south of Budapest. The southern section of the Danube is rich in natural and cultural assets, which could very well be linked to other branches of tourism. Boat trips could be combined with castle tourism, wine tourism (as three wine producing areas lie along the Danube), conference tourism, various forms of active tourism.

In addition to touristic boat services, MAHART PassNave Ltd. also engages in scheduled passenger transport, though only to a limited extent. The Danube, as an inland waterway, which is an existing but unexploited transport link between the capital and its suburbs encouraged MAHART Pass Nave Ltd. to contribute to commuter transport services between Budapest and the suburbs with its hydrofoil fleet. Before launching this activity, the harbour infrastructure needs to be put in place: P+R sites at the harbours in neighbouring settlements, providing safe access to harbours in Budapest for pedestrians.
As a follow-up to our research in 2009 we examined how the network to be established for commuter transportation could be used for the purposes of tourism, as well. This would reduce the car traffic between Budapest and the suburbs during week-ends. As a result, we came to the conclusion that the development of water tourism has huge potentials. Foreign visitors should be targeted with adequate marketing tools that make them aware of the opportunities offered by cruises. The market of domestic tourists can primarily be expanded by increasing the number of destinations and infrastructure development.


Association for European Transport