The environmental movement started to get known around 1960s since when many companies began to market themselves as environmentally friendly. As the tourism market is continuously changing we want to share our opinions and information about the sustainable side of tourism.
From its beginning, green tourism was known as a small scale tourism that encouraged people to visit natural areas and minimize the impacts of tourism on the environment. The term is used for businesses with an environmentally friendly activity. However, more and more lately, green tourism has been oftentimes used by businesses that do not put that much effort into making their activity more sustainable and the term became more known for greenwashing. Greenwashing refers to companies that are more interested in becoming known for its green tourism and less for its contribution to the environment and local communities.
Ecotourism is referring to a niche of tourism that has as purpose visiting natural and unspoiled tourist areas without having a great impact on the destination, and is often referred to as the alternative to mass tourism. Furthermore, it is usually used for describing the tourism where the flora and fauna are the principal attractions, and rarely referred to for urban destinations.
Ecotourism is focused on conserving both the terrestrial and marine environments. The principles that are at the core of ecotourism are reducing the impacts of tourism on the ecosystems, improve the awareness for good environmental practices for travelling, enhancing the importance of establishing and operating low impact tourism facilities. Furthermore the essential value of ecotourism has to be of ensuring long term sustainability of the travel industry by bringing together local communities, tourism industry and nature preservationists.
The International Ecotourism Society defines Ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.”
As tourism is an important industry and is always growing as industry, it doesn’t always help the environment and local communities. Ecotourism and sustainable tourism (that will be discussed further on) came to gain popularity in times of the growth of mass tourism.
Some examples of ecotourism spots in Romania are:
This accredited ecotourism spot has become popular as tourists come to see the bears at Piatra Craiului Natural Reserve. The area is as well a renowned rural location that offers incredible experiences based on cooking traditional and organic dishes.
The Bison Land has an important value for tourism in Romania thanks to its monasteries the protected area of Vanatori Neamt Nature Park. It was as well included in Top 100 most sustainable destinations in the world in 2017.
Everyone can agree that Maramures plays an important role in the Romanian rural tourism. This area in Maramures makes everyone turn back in time and experience the deep-rooted traditions and way of life that are still kept alive. Furthermore, for nature lovers, Creasta Cososului (1450m) offers incredible views with its unusual shaped rocky peak. Due to its vast wilderness areas, wild animal species populate the area such as wild boars, bears, and many others.
As the World Tourism Organization confirms, sustainable tourism development requires the participation of the stakeholders in a well-contoured political environment. Creating sustainable tourism development is a long term and continuous process that needs monitoring the impacts of tourism on the destination, and introducing corrective measures along the way. Tourists are also an important part of the development, therefore a high customer satisfaction along with meaningful awareness is necessary as well.
Sustainable tourism refers to a wider focus of tourism than ecotourism and is defined as being the tourism boosts the economy, does no harm to the environment and sustains the local community.
In Romania, sustainable tourism is maintained by supporting the local communities, the local economy, and taking environmentally friendly actions and measures. More and more companies in Romania have tried, despite the low governmental support, to implement and make their businesses as sustainable as possible by taking energy-saving measures and minimizing waste.
In Romania some examples of sustainable tourism projects are:
The project promotes and sustains the development of small communities through different projects and events. The vision and mission of the association are to promote the local communities in a sustainable, trustworthy, and natural way.
The association started in 2010 and it has the purpose to help the local development of Danube Delta and other natural spots in Romania. The core values of the association are:
- Preserving and promoting the cultural and natural resources in Romania with the purpose of enhancing the individual characteristic of a place for responsible tourism development;
- The development of local communities that share the same goal and implement a responsible development among the people for the preservation of patrimony elements.
The foundation has a strong corporate social responsibility and promotes the revival and sustainable development of rural communities. The project for Saschiz Pottery has as purpose the revival of local crafts as it helps the local tourism development and increases the employability of young people in the region.
There are more forms of tourism that promote a sustainable development of the industry. Geotourism is a type of tourism that supports the enhancement of the different geographical characteristics of a place. National Geographic states that geotourism started as the destinations became increasingly globalized and homogeneous. As sustainable tourism and ecotourism do, geotourism benefits the local communities and economy but it enhances the benefits on the integrity of a destination.
Geotourism has clear principles for governments and tourism operators such as following the WTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and the main beliefs of the Cultural Tourism Charter by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), protecting the destination by keeping the volume of tourism to suitable limits, implement and adopt strategies to alleviate the practices that are not compatible with the geotourism of the destination.
Everyone can be a geotraveler by “going local”. The key is to stay, travel, eat and shop from local businesses, where the spending will boost the economy, support the development of the local communities and will help with the preservation of the destination’s authenticity.
Rolandia supported and encouraged the responsible and sustainable tourism from the very beginning. You can find our statement here.
Furthermore, surpassing our statement are the experiences of the tourists that through their actions and our tours felt they contributed in a positive way to the local economy and conservation of the visited communities. Our idea of sustainable tourism is in the traditional meals offered by the local peasant families, accommodation at traditional houses and renovated mansions, workshops at the local communities, walks around their natural parks, and actions in the local communities to encourage the locals to start complementary activities starting from the daily life in the community.