The Ecotourism is a form of tourism in which the tourist experiences nature and local traditions; the main objectives of ecotourism are:

  • lowest negative impact upon the natural and socio-cultural environment;
  • active conservation of nature and cultural heritage of the visited area;
  • use of local facilities and services;
  • increased understanding of the nature and local culture aspects;
  • direct contact with local people and the local travel agent, facilitated by the reduce size of the visitor group;

Another, equally significant, aspect of ecotourism is to lead clients to realistic expectations through correct marketing. (“Ecoturism în România – De ce şi pentru cine? / Ecotourism in Romania – Why and For Whom?”, 2007, publication of WWF Programul Dunăre Carpaţi România)

The ecotourism means the responsible attitude towards the natural and cultural values of an area, of the visitors as well as of those who organise and carry out this economic activity. Apart from attitude, ecotourism means effective approach for the conservation of nature, of landscape, especially of those areas which are fragile or have high values, which actually represent the central source for this economic activity. The protection and conservation of this resource is not only a necessity for the present and future development of the area but also an activity that requires financial and human resources, understanding and public support. The intention in ecotourism is to direct some part of the benefits resulted from tourism as economic activity towards the protection of such aspects which represent the touristic potential of the area and are promoted as such.

Ecotourism is to be an opportunity for learning, for knowledge. Thus the visitors should benefit from access to information on the area visited, should have the opportunity to find out information on the nature values, history and traditions of the area through both non-personal means and directly, from the tour operators and local people they meet.

The ecotourism destination

The aim of AETD is to develop Ţara Dornelor into an ecotourism destination through coordinating and supporting the efforts of all the existing actors towards this objective.
An ecotourism destination is a limited geographical area which presents the following features:

  • a unitary and coherent marketing image;
  • a range of touristic products that fit the destination image presented to the tourists;
  • a network of general and specific services that contribute to the realisation of tourism products in correlation with the marketing image;
  • the existence of an “administrator/coordinator” of the destination, with clear policy and implementation means for the coordination of the destination.

The ecotourism destination is the touristic destination that meets the following principles:

  • at the level of the destination, information is provided for tourist and local people on the natural character of the destination.
  • effective nature conservation actions are implemented at the level of the destination.
  • correct and “green” marketing image;
  • real support for the local communities, at the level of the destination;
  • sustainable business management prevail within the destination;

Ecotourism in Ţara Dornelor

Particularly after the year 2000, in areas with touristic traditions and particular potential (i.e. Maramureş, Bucovina, Bran area, etc.), rural tourism has known a quite fast development, but not necessarily in a unitary way or in the right direction to make it sustainable.

Rural areas, especially the mountainous ones, present a fragile natural, cultural and economical environment. In order to become a profitable and sustainable economic activity, the development of tourism in such areas should make responsible use of the components with tourism values and contribute to the conservation of the most fragile and particular ones. This is why unitary vision and very good long term planning and organisation are required for the development of such areas. Due to the continuous expansion and the marked dynamics of the tourism market, the success of a tourism area development depends more and more on the way its uniqueness and specificity are identified and highlighted.

The necessity for a different approach

Ţara Dornelor is a mountainous depression of relatively reduced size where nature and the traditional way of life are still well preserved, fact that explains why tourists prefer this area and visit it for active mountain tourism, for rest and relaxation, for winter sports. The development of tourism here is first and foremost necessary in order to support the local economy, currently based on the (mainly primary) processing of local resources through cattle raising, food and wood industries.

There are touristically valuable elements in the area which require a different approach, focused on the mitigation of the impact upon the environment:

  • Protected areas of national interest and Natura 2000 sites. Some of them are already tourism objectives, others may become in the future, but their integration in the local development should take into account above all the protection regime of such areas. Such approaches are promoted and supported by the financing lines for Natura 2000 sites.
  • Călimani National Park. Călimani massif is already known as a tourism mark of the area, but the status of national park it was attributed in the year 2000 requires the development of forms of tourism compliant with this status and its objective, the preservation of the nature high values. From the very beginning, the existence of the human settlements Țara Dornelor has been linked to Călimani mountains, to the natural resources they provide. These bonds are still alive and the Park, lying in the upper part of the massif, can not be isolated, which means that the park is directly or indirectly affected by the human activities carried out outside its limits. It is therefore desirable and natural that part of the park targets be passed over the neighbouring communities. Inappropriate tourism development, especially in the communities located in close vicinity to the park, where the activities of the tourists are related to the park, may represent a potential threat for the landscape quality and the nature balance.
  • The future development of the area depends on the preservation of the landscape in Țara Dornelor, itself a resource for rural tourism (the distinctiveness of which is given by the preservation of traditional occupations which contribute to maintain  the balance in nature, the preservation of the architectural style, of the traditions, customs, costumes and of nature of the area).

Through its specificity, ecotourism is one of the most adequate approaches to achieve the sustainable development of the area.