The development of a given place or settlement can be successful if built on local endowments. We must not neglect, however, those «soft» factors without which the respective place would not have been attractive. A large part of this is made by elements of local culture: habits, traditions, crafts, local architecture etc.  We can only neglect what we do not know. If we know something, we are attached to it; it becomes part of us, if not in other way, in forms of feelings. On this ground, a known habit is a more definite part of culture related to a respective place, which may be the pledge of survival in some problematic regions and cultures.
The Leader programme in the European Union
The Leader+ is one of the Structural Funds financed community initiatives of the EU, with the help of which rural citizens of the Union can make use of the long term growth potential of their own regions. The basic pillars of the programme, promoting integrated, high quality and original strategies of sustainable development, are partner communities and networks for exchange of experience. The programme is partly financed by the Guidance part of the EAGGF, while the rest is usually covered by public and private contributions .
The LEADER is a French acronym: Liaison Entre Actions pour le Developpement de l’Economie Rurale = Community Initiative for the Development of the Rural Economy.
The community initiative launched by the European Community in 1991 promotes sustainable development by the solution of economic, social and environmental problems at local level in the rural areas of Europe. The aim of the Union, then with fifteen member states, was to stop the further falling behind of impoverishing and ageing rural areas, and the almost two decades of experience — also in the 12 countries that have joined since then — seem to justify the raison d’être of the programme .
LEADER is built on the joint efforts of local public administration, entrepreneurs and nongovernmental organisations, empowering their communities with real decision-making competencies. Geographically contiguous groups of settlements, with a total of 10 to 100 thousand population, are designated for the implementation of rural development strategies worked out by the stakeholders. Actors formerly coexisting and working next to each other become partners with the same rights, working jointly for the future of their own regions.
More than half of the 500 million population of the European Union live in rural areas (in settlements with less than 10.000 inhabitants or with population density below 120 persons/km2), which is 90 % of the total territory of the continent. The rural areas of Europe are very much different, though: the spread of the LEADER initiative was promoted by the recognition that development strategies are more effective and efficient if they are made and then implemented at local level by the local actors. The foundations of LEADER are clear and transparent decision-making process, the cooperation of the stakeholders and the creation of the infrastructure necessary for the transfer of good practices.
The difference between measures by LEADER and traditional rural development policy is that the former provides guidance on «how» to achieve the respective goal, and does not prescribe «what» to do. Local participation, real cooperation and joint thinking, which may appear as auxiliary elements elsewhere, are the main features of operation in this place — this is the reason why the programme is more important than its share from the resources suggests.
The seven pillars of LEADER make a system of tools. The point is that the elements have a positive correlation, each of them supplements the others, exerting thereby a long-term impact on the development dynamism of rural areas and also on the capacity of the local actors to identify and solve problems:
- Area-based development;
- Bottom-up approach;
- Trilateral partnership: business, non-governmental and public sector;
- Integrated intersectoral approach;
- Network operation;
- Cooperation .
At local level, an original and important feature of the LEADER approach is the setting up and operation of «local development association» called local action group (LAG). The LAG is responsible for drafting and implementing the local development strategy, making decisions on the planning, use and management of resources. They may be successful by:
- collecting, unifying and promoting available human resources from the public sector, the private sector and the non-governmental organisations;
- the recognition of the connection points, joint projects and actions involving several sectors which bring local actors together, so that local synergy is achieved and the critical mass necessary to increase economic competitiveness is reached;
- promoting with continuous consultations the openness to cooperation, dialogue among the different rural actors who often have little experience in cooperation;
- supporting the adaptation process to the changes of the agricultural sector (e.g. quality products, food chains), to the diverse challenges of rural economy and to environment conscious
Local action groups decide (locally!) on the main directions of the local rural development strategy, its detailed content and also on the projects to be supported. Empowered with experienced and professional group members and the necessary decision-making authority, a LAG represents an organisational model that can positively influence the complex processes of rural development.
A pilot project — how a rural ecotourism accommodation is established
LEADER then is an EU co-financed programme whose aim is to support developments that are in line with the local economic development objectives.
The tender was submitted by a private entrepreneur in 2013, under the name «Cherry garden eco-lodge and lookout tower» in the category «Other accommodations». Local action groups that decide on the support of a given tender defined an objective related to rural development. In the case of this particular tender it was «Tourism development pilot project» including innovative services: establishment of recreational and health tourism, and business promotion.
The basic aim of the project is economic development with touristic purposes. The project consists of several elements: construction, procurement of machinery, marketing, other costs. The amount of state support is 60 %.
The aim of the project is a pilot tourism development with innovative services: the establishment of recreation and health tourism. The contribution of the project to the objectives defined in the Local Rural Development Strategy (LRDS) is as follows:
- Tourism, a major breakout point of the area, has considerable multiplier effect. The development of the quality and innovative touristic services defined in the project promotes the achievement of the goals set in the Local Rural Development Strategy and contributes to the formation and development of the local economic Incomes from tourism strengthen local economy, contributing thereby to the improvement of the quality of life.
- The project is organically linked to the major new investments realised in the recent years (Dinnyés Traditionalist Centre, Vital Hotel Nautis, Gate of the Lake of Velence, single bicycle path around the Lake of Velence, Pákozd Mészeghegy theme route, gallery of the Lake of Velence, Birds’ Song study path etc), promoting thereby the implementation of the chain of experiences, supplementing that with new
- In case of its successful implementation, the project assists the expansion of the touristic season (achievement of «four-season» tourism) even in those months that are traditionally a dead season in touristic services (late autumn bird migration). It will thereby increase the popularity of the area and positively influence the image of the Lake of In addition, the project is integrated into innovative service programme packages designed to meet the demands of recreational and health tourism, creating a new possibility not only for the local residents but also visitors to the area.
- As a summary, a complex development is planned that integrates the opportunities of recreational tourism with equestrian, cycling, cultural, enological and ecotourism, realised in the framework of cooperation agreements made with the local service The latter e.g. is served by the cooperation with the Danube-Ipoly National Park or the Municipality of Pákozd, improving the access of visitors to affordable accommodations, on the one hand, and by the construction of a bird watch tower in another target area of the project, on the other hand.
In the framework of the project three developments will be realised:
- By the renovation of a building on the outskirts of Csirib village a community accommodation will be established that will be used for the implementation of the tourism services specified in the This involves renewal of the building and providing its security (instalment of an alarm system).
- In the six hectare Natura 2000 territory along the Dinnyés-Pákozd road a bird watch tower will be built, with the support of the Danube-Ipoly National Park, suitable in the framework of ecotourism for the observation of the values of nature, with special regard to the migration of birds in the spring and Costs include the construction of the lookout tower and its security (fence).
- With regard to the local development in Csirib, a location not really popular with tourists for the time being, and to the cooperation with the local service providers, a webpage will be made that allows the launch of the tourism service (marketing goals) in this relatively unknown This will include, on the one hand, an online booking system, and the recommendation of the local service providers by allowing reduced priced services, on the other hand. Costs include the design of the website.
The implementation of the project will lead to the realisation of an accommodation and touristic attraction (bird watch tower) that integrate a less popular settlement part (Csirib) into the service chain, allowing this way the increase of local employment (cleaning, guiding groups), and also establishes a long-term cooperation among the local service providers by the online integration of services mutually assisting each other, which is actually a basic requirement of the projects supported by the European Union .
Following the operational principles of LEADER and meeting the objectives of the LAG will be realised in the project by direct and indirect cooperation.
Direct cooperation will be realised by cooperation agreements within the project, signed by the tourism service providers around the Lake of Velence and the related businesses and institutions for the foundation of joint work. In order to realise this we tried to make as many cooperation contracts as possible in the competency area of the LAG, in the following areas:
- enological tourism (Lake of Velence Wine Route Association, Csóbor Winery);
- ecotourism (Danube-Ipoly National Park);
- cycling tourism (Municipality of Pákozd, Bodor bicycle rent service);
- kayak tours (Lake of Velence Non-for-profit Development );
- equestrian tourism (Grand Equestrian Farm).
The support of the Danube-Ipoly National Park is worth a sentence, as it includes both the bird watch tower to be established in the area and the occasional accommodation of their guests.
Indirect form of cooperation can be seen in the preference of local businesses in the implementation of the project, increasing thereby the income generation potential of the micro-region and its ability to keep the incomes within the area. It is a goal of selected importance to keep as much as possible of the amounts paid for the developments generated by the project within the micro-region.
The development will be realised in two real estates coming from the two locations:
- Gárdony-Csiribpuszta: the ground of the development is the estate in the outskirts of Csirib (14–18 Nádasdy street, land registry number 0109/19). The real estate is family owned; it has a territory of 2,909 m2, on which there is a building of 300 m2, formerly used as a student accommodation, and in need of renovaThe house is perfect for the objectives of the project. The roof of the building and all doors and windows will have to be replaced, and the interior design of the building will have to be transformed so that the accommodation should meet the criteria specified for community accommodations by the relevant legal regulations.
- Pákozd: the other location of the project is the also family owned site on the outskirts of Pákozd, land registry number 0178. As a Natura 2000 protected area, it will allow along the Dinnyés-Pákozd road the construction of a bird watch tower. Presently the real estate is used as a meadow; some parts are covered by
It is important to stress that skills necessary for implementing the project (tourism, environmental protection, agricultural qualifications) and language skills (English and Russian) are available.
Financial data of the project
T a b l e
Source: project data.
The goal of the project to be implemented is to establish auxiliary attractions in a county of Hungary mostly renowned for its industry, in the neighbourhood of a popular domestic tourism resort. The project is basically economic development oriented, by the establishment of an accommodation. The project will be implemented in 2014 and it will hopefully contribute to the preservation and maybe even the development of Csiribpuszta, a residential place on the outskirt of a village.
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- Miskó K. (2002): Rural development program in the European Union. In: Research and Information Institute for Agriculture: Studies in Agricultural Economics (98) Budapest: Research and Information Institute for Agriculture, p. 49–59.
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