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Gheorgheni

Gheorgheni is located on the eastern edge of the Romanian Giurgeu basin in the foothills of the Transylvanian mountains. Nearly 88% of the 20,000 residents living in Gheorgheni and its surrounding villages are of Hungarian origin, while the Romanian population makes up 11% and the remainder being Roma. The proportion of people from Romanian origin in the town is in part the result of the ethnic policies pursued by the Ceausescu regime during the post war period. The town’s history goes back to the 12th century but it became wealthy during the 18th and 19th century due to its mining, crafts and trading activities. Today much of local industry depends on forestry and timber processing but tourism is showing significant potential for growth. The once attractive town centre and adjacent neighbourhoods have suffered from many decades of neglect and under-investment resulting in a poor physical environment. The Red Lake is one of the key national attractions in Romania and in close proximity to Gheorgheni. It is the largest natural mountain lake in Romania, and during Ceausescu’s regime the area was the main tourist destinations for people who wanted to spend their vacations in the mountains. There are currently plans to construct five ski slopes to support winter tourism which will complement the wide range of long and short distance footpaths as well as the fishing and hunting facilities.

The target area of the SURE project in Gheorgheni encompasses the town centre and the Red Lake holiday resort. While the development of economic, physical and social interventions will be focused on the town centre, these will be strategically linked to current or potential tourist activities in the Red Lake holiday resort and other leisure services in the surrounding areas. Most of the central area of Gheorgheni consists of buildings that have significant historical and architectural value. These buildings are primarily in private ownership, have a poor appearance and are in need of substantial repair. In addition, individual retailers promote their businesses in ways which are unsympathetic to the historical features of the buildings they occupy.

Despite its advantageous location, little co-ordinated effort has been made to create a coherent offer for tourists passing through Gheorgheni on the way to the Red Lake resort. Local customs, foods or crafts not marketed and services for visitors are poor. Due to its limited facilities and opportunities there is a continuous outward migration of young people, many of whom obtained degrees in the town’s university. Those who are left behind are contributing to a growing number of young unemployed people.

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SURE

Implementation of integrated socio-economic regeneration strategies which build on local strengths and opportunities. This will be achieved by...
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