WWF attracts British tourists to Maramures in the Romanian Carpathians
The program is built largely around WWF initiatives in the region, which started seven years ago and aim to preserve virgin forests, bear, lynx and wolf habitats and cultural heritage - all the activities that provide quality ecotourism. A percentage of the price of each tour package will go to WWF conservation projects in the area.
“The success of this program will show that there are effective solutions which not only provide a viable path to economic prosperity, but also respect nature, traditions and local communities, at a time when too much emphasis is put on immediate profit, nature exploitation at all costs and short-term solutions.
Generating a long-term income through responsible tourism will not only contribute to raising the standard of living in the area – it will contribute decisively to preserving traditions and protecting nature that makes us proud of the wonderful area of Maramures,” said Magor Csibi, director of WWF-Romania.
The ecotourism route is addressed primarily to foreign tourists and follows the Maramures Heritage Trail created with the support of WWF in 2006. It connects seven protected areas and seven traditional villages over a course of 86 km. It has been developed for slow, non-motorized transport and tourism, so that the beauty of the place could be discovered and admired.
The trip around Maramures starts in the village of Breb, an open-air museum in its self, where visitors will have the opportunity to see the UNESCO world heritage wooden church built in 1531, and step into the workshop of a wood carver artist. Then it continues to Rooster Ridge and Strâmbu Băiuţ virgin forest and passes under the old wooden gates of several other heritage churches. The package includes a Vaser Valley forestry railway journey, meeting with craftsmen and beekeepers in traditional villages, a stop at a traditional shepherd community and a visit to the Merry Cemetery in Săpânţa.
“Romania has a huge tourism potential, but to become an attractive destination for foreign tourists it needs to provide the things that visitors can’t find in other destinations. The uniqueness of the product is an important asset. Ecotourism is increasingly appreciated around the world and Romania has a huge advantage in this field compared to many countries in Europe.
We chose to develop historical Maramures as the first ecotourism project with WWF-Romania because the region blends wild nature with folk customs and sights of UNESCO world heritage to form an excellent destination for quality ecotourism”, said Dragos Pirnog, Product Manager at Explore Travel.
WWF has already launched its initiative The Green Heart of Europe to preserve wild nature in Central and Eastern Europe. Together with Austrian tour operator Hofer Reisen, WWF offers an ecotourism trip to Rusenski Lom in Bulgaria by the Danube River, which blends wild nature and traditional farming.