Romania travel: Colinele Transilvaniei becomes certified ecotourism destination
Colinele Transilvaniei (the Transylvanian Highlands) is one of the newest ecotourism destinations in Romania after having received the necessary certification from the Ministry of Tourism. The area stretches over 260,000 hectares of protected natural areas, covering part of the Brașov, Mureș, and Sibiu counties.
Colinele Transilvaniei includes 44 communities that have opened their doors to Romanian and foreign tourists, offering fortified churches, UNESCO sites, and traditional Saxon houses that have been renovated and converted into guesthouses. Visitors will also have 600 kilometers of marked tourist routes meant for hiking or cycling, all in a natural landscape that people have maintained for hundreds of years.
The recently obtained ecotourism certification recognizes "the development of the Colinele Transilvaniei destination on sustainable principles" and will be able to be used to promote tourist experiences in the area for a period of three years.
Environmental NGOs have been active in the area for years. WWF Romania, for example, has been working in the Hârtibaci Plateau alongside local partners for over 10 years to maintain both the natural and cultural, gastronomic, and historical value as intact and authentic as possible, helping local communities to develop sustainably, in harmony with nature.
Cristina-Ana Iliescu, the spokesperson for the Destination Management Unit, says that it all began when a local initiative group saw ecotourism as a way to help this area develop sustainably while retaining its identity and attracting tourists. “And that worked, first attracting visitors from abroad, who appreciated the uniqueness of the experiences in the Transylvanian Hills, then, in the last five years, more and more, Romanians as well,” she argues in the press release.
The certification, the spokesperson goes on to say, “is an honor that obliges us to promote the maintenance of a high standard of tourist experiences and services, in order to keep this certification and remain authentic for tourists.”
Good food and spectacular views bring tourists back to Colinele Transilvaniei year after year. In the last five years, the percentage of those who come to the area several times a year has increased 4 times, and the duration of visits over 3 nights has doubled.
The Transylvanian Highlands Ecotourism destination includes protected areas that are part of European Natura 2000, the largest ecological network in the world, with over 25,000 sites across the continent, including 531 on Romanian territory.
(Photo source: Colinele Transilvaniei)