Budapest City’s Balna (Whale) complex might be turned into a cruise passenger terminal for Danube riverboat passengers, head of the Hungarian Tourism Agency Zoltan Guller announced. The "Whale" is the most controversial building in Hungary's capital city in terms of its appearance.
Its construction drew controversies, as it went unfinished for quite a long time, adding to lawsuits with the contractors. When it was finally opened back in 2013, it stayed unused, generating a loss for years.
Last year, the former Fidesz majority leadership sold it to the state for HUF11 billion (EUR31 million). That move was much-debated, as then opposition criticized Tarlos’ administration, arguing it should try to make proper use out of the facility and accusing it to have sold the complex under the market price. The "Whale" will be examined by a committee brought together by the new opposition-majority capital leadership to investigate suspected cases of corruption in recent years.
According to Guller, the Balna may be turned into a tourist port serving Danube river ships just like an airport so that arrivals and departures would occur there. It would additionally include a permanent exhibition and conference room, gastronomic “experience stands” and an information point.
The head of the Hungarian Tourism Agency also revealed they were in talks with the local government of Budapest who seemed open to the plans. This was confirmed by Mayor Gergely Karacsony who said “they are thinking together with the government on this one,” adding they had long aimed to relocate vessels south from the downtown area.
Budapest views cruise ships as major elements of the port city’s tourism, which works as such if they can dock close to the city center, Karacsony argued.