The story of a project which kick-started rapid development of tourism in Tuzla dates back to 2003. It all started after completion of the first phase of construction of Pannonica Lakes complex. Committed to triggering urban development, the city Mayor Jasmin Imamović and his team decided to use salt, a natural resource whose exploitation threatened the urban heritage and caused devastation in the old town area, and use it to trigger development of tourism, ultimately changing the city landscape, turning it into a continental oasis unlike any other in Europe.
Resolved to beautify this large area in the city centre, the city’s visionaries decided to use the salt-water available in the immediate proximity of the complex, to build a water accumulation in the form of medicinal salt-water lake.
The combination of the available natural resources, human ingenuity and manpower created the complex of Pannonica lakes as a first-rate ecological project, unique in South East Europe, built to serve and benefit all citizens of the city, the country and the region.
Soon after implementation of the first phase, once the big lake was completed and opened for business in June of 2003, phased development continued. In 2006, the archaeological park of Neolithic settlement of stilt houses complemented the existing complex. The settlement visually and vividly shows the continuity of human existence in the area of present-day city of Tuzla, since the Neolithic era. Early in the summer season of 2008, the capacities of the complex were significantly increased as the second salt-water lake was added to the existing park. In late September of the same year, another phenomenal attraction was introduced: salt-water waterfalls, unique in this area, creating inhalation spa in the open. The third lake was opened on 1 September 2012, with the capacity sufficient to host 2,500 visitors, increasing the daily capacity of the entire complex to 17,000 visitors per day.
The salt-water lakes are artificially created accumulation of water within large open basins made of combined geo-synthetic and natural materials. The first lake occupies 1.014 ha, the second 0.530 ha, and the third 1.7 ha.
The third lake was designed in the form of two smaller lakes joined together with a small drainage system, offering many opportunities for adrenaline adventures, with two water slides, two massage jets and a geyser.
Salt-water waterfalls, as a special attraction of the park, rush down the hill over five cascades, making a short break on their way down, as they spill over from two small swimming pools. Inhaling salt-water aerosols is known to help overcome stress, aid recovery from respiratory diseases, alleviate headache and improve general health and wellbeing.
The water used to fill up the lakes is a combination of technological fresh water and high concentration salt-water (300 mg/l) from salt wells of the Tetima exploitation site. The share of salt-water in the total mass of water is about 30%, resulting in salt concentration ranging between 30 and 35 gr/l, maintaining salt concentration level equivalent to sea water. In addition to salt, the water of Pannonica Lakes contains minerals such as calcium, sodium, sulphur, iodine and bromine, creating a unique blend of healing and relaxing mixture of minerals, like no other in our country or beyond.
Crowds of Visitors
Since commencement of its operation in 2003, the complex was visited by a staggering number of 3.5 million visitors, with daily number of visitors averaging about 7,000. Daily record still holds strong, at undefeated 15,000 visitors. In the season of 2015, a record number of visitors enjoyed the park; as many as 450,000.
This incredible interest in Pannonica Lakes can certainly be attributed to its salt-water of absolute purity and its tested medicinal properties. In addition, the complex is well maintained and kept in pristine condition, up to the standards higher even than the standards applicable to the so-called “Blue Flag” sea and lake resorts. Rigorous sanitation regime has been put in place to ensure health and safety of guests. Other appeals of this fascinating continental oasis include countless opportunities for fun, entertainment and refreshment, and last but not least, reasonable prices, which have not changed in the past six years.
The operation of the complex as recorded thus far holds a great promise for all future developmental plans focusing on this area.
Foto: Denis Bašić