Hungary joins forces with Slovenia, Italy and Croatia to protect its tourists
Quadrilaterale, as its name suggests, is a cooperation among the governments of four countries - Croatia, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia. It is a forum for coordinating policies and planning in many areas, most recently on tourist protection - making sure visitors have a safe holiday. Experts from these four countries assembled in Siofok by Lake Balaton, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hungary, to see how holiday stays could be made safer.
Radio Budapest talked to one of the organisers, Major Pal Ban of Hungary's Crime Prevention Department:
"The concrete issues are to lower the fear of crime and increase the tourists' safety, so that there belongings like their cars for example aren't stolen wherever they go, and they aren't driven away from tourist venues because of the fear of crime."
What has the trend been in Hungary, with regards to these crimes?
"On average, every year some 1,500 tourists are victims of crimes in all the tourist areas, especially around the Lake Balaton. The number of crimes has actually decreased with a project that was started three years ago. Since then, the number of stolen cars has reduced by half and there are much fewer burglaries and thefts committed against not only tourists but the locals who are accommodating the tourists too."
How have you managed to achieve this? Through the development of technical devices or more police officers on the streets?
"Putting more police officers on the street is not exactly a solution we can implement because we don't have more personnel. But cooperating with local governments, NGOs and involving students in the summer time to patrol the streets and notify the police officers of any abnormalities. This makes it easier to react faster. We have also set up centres in which people who command foreign languages can assist tourists who were victims of a crime. Through all of this cooperation with partners, statistical data shows that crime is much less of a threat and public security is much stronger now."
So the international cooperation is mainly based on exchanging experiences?
"Exactly so. We are exchanging experience because we have been very successful with this project and this success is needed even on the Croatian seaside where lots of Hungarians spend their summer holidays and we want to help them."