Romania’s ecotourism potential can benefit both conservation and local development
Ecotourism is experiencing fantastic growth on a global scale, and Romania in particular has great potential to attract tourists and therefore boost revenues through ecotourism services. WWF, in partnership with the local communities and the Romanian Ecotourism Association, has crafted a long-term vision for the future development of ecotourism in the Maramures area of Northern Romania which benefits local protected areas and provides a sustainable path of development.
At the centre of this vision is the Payments for Ecosystems Services (PES) scheme which is intended to supplement the unfortunate lack of funding for conservation measures within the protected areas. Local guesthouses and tour-operators voluntarily contribute with fixed yearly donations, and in return they are offered expertise and support on adopting ecotourism practices in order to reduce their businesses’ impact on the environment.
The WWF project team has facilitated a series of workshops and public consultations with a multitude of local stakeholders, and is now taking the initiative a step further by applying for the Mara-Cosau-Rooster’s Peak area to have the distinction of an ecotourism destination. This is an initiative by the Romanian government to promote ecotourism and requires certain standards to become part of their portfolio. This is a great opportunity to build awareness of the initiative as well as the invaluable natural and cultural heritage of Romania, thus increasing the amount of funds collected in the PES scheme.
If officially recognised as an ecotourism destination, the area will become an integral part of a future network of ecotourism destinations in Romania which will help promote the country’s natural and cultural attractions while also providing it with financial benefits.