The program accelerates establishment of ecotourism destinations and supports the creation of a national network of ecotourism destinations in Romania. The aim of this program is to contribute to the economic development of local communities, nature conservation and local culture and development, and to position Romania as an important ecotourism destination.
Romania is one of the most biodiverse countries in Europe. The 27 national and natural parks, the Natura 2000 network and the cultural and historical heritage make this country an ideal ecotourism destination.
An ecotourism destination is a micro-region with remarkable natural and cultural assets, where sustainable tourism can be conducted, offering integrated experiences with minimal environment impact, by aggregating a network of complementary ecotourism service providers under the same common marketing and development strategy.
The areas most suitable for ecotourism are, however, among the least developed in Romania, with low revenues, no economic opportunities and, many times, jeopardized by an “industrial” approach to development: deforestation, mass tourism or other activities that place nature and the unique values of the area at risk.
In 2012, Romania was the first European country to develop a national methodology for the assessment and establishment of ecotourism destinations. Five such certified destinations have been established up to now: Zărnești-Piatra Craiului, Eco Maramureș, Țara Hațegului – Retezat, Ținutul Zimbrului, and Țara Dornelor. Other five areas focused on sustainable ecotourism: Colinele Transilvaniei, Băile Tușnad și împrejurimile, Pădurea Craiului, Mărginimea Sibiului, and the Danube Delta.
The program is designed as a long-term intervention and is developed along three strategic lines:
- To create a leadership and management core by supporting local organizations in at least seven regions to capitalize on the ecotourism potential to create sustainable plans with the local leadership community to help develop the area as an ecotourism destination.
- To contribute to the public debate about ecotourism, by bringing best practices and lessons learned during the implementation of the program before decision makers.
- To communicate about and promote Romania as an ecotourism destination at the local, national, and international level
“The Development of Ecotourism Destinations in Romania” is an integrated program, developed in partnership with Fundația pentru Parteneriat (as a coordinator and strategic partner) and Asociația pentru Ecoturism din România (technical assistance partner), joined by other specialized partners.
In 2019 the Friends for Friends Foundation (FFFF) joined in the effort to assist the ecodestinations in the marketing and communication process.
Since March 2021, we also began a program with Asociatia “Ivan Patzaichin-Mila 23” to accelerate the development of ecotourism in Danube Delta by developing new touristic routes to less visited areas.
In March 2022, the Synerb Venture Catalyzer Association joined the ecotourism program with an entrepreneurial component. The program will support the strengthening of the management of the ecotourism destinations in the program, through personalized technical assistance and business incubation.
From June 2022, through Make Better association, a new project further supports ecotourism development by catalyzing the revitalization of vacant spaces/latent assets into entrepreneurial establishments, within the network of ecotourism destinations. The first phase of the project is meant to map the revitalization potential, assess relevant resources and active stakeholders (including potential sources of public/private funding), and propose recommendations for a tailored support mechanism – financial and know how – for spaces reconversion and activation.
The program has helped convert disparate bits into an ecotourism system, built on a network of eco-destinations driven by common goals, that can advance the visibility of the ecodestinations and the discussions in the public policy area.
Moreover, the program stimulates the professionalization of the management of ecotourism destinations, local development through ecotourism, and contributes to the promotion of the ecodestinations network on the national and international tourism markets under the Discover Eco-Romania brand.
Infrastructure and specific services involved in local partnerships (2014-2022):
- 62 protected areas
- 84 communities
- 264 accommodation facilities
- 110 other services and small producers
For more information about events in the ecotourism destinations, please access this link: