Romania has successfully launched the ecotourism destination certification scheme: the first three regions from Romania are in the process to be evaluated according to the national criteria for ecotourism destinations.
The first two accredited regions in 2014 are: Zarnesti – Northen side of Piatra Craiului National Park in Brasov and Mara – Cosau – Creasta Cocosului in Maramures.
Also, Padurea Craiului in Bihor is currently under evaluation.
An ecotourism destination is predominantly a rural region that includes a protected area and has developed or is in the process of developing local small scale responsible tourism businesses and has a sustainable general approach at the destination level .
The concept of ecotourism destinations was initially elaborated into the National Ecotourism Strategy (2009) developed by the National Institute for Research and Development in Tourism (INCDT) and endorsed by the National Tourism Authority (ANT).
The next phase was to develop the certification system for ecotourism destinations under the coordination of ANT within the Inter-Ministry working group, between 2011 and 2013. The criteria are based on the latest international experience provided by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s Criteria(GSTC) and the European Ecotourism Labelling Standards (EETLS).
At present, Romania is among the first countries worldwide applying and adapting these standards for ecotourism destinations.
Recently, the National Tourism Authority has begun to evaluate the first three regions according to the ecotourism destination certification system and it is expected that by 2016 there will be 10 such regions officially awarded as ecotourism destinations.
Ecotourism is a tool for local sustainable development of rural areas close to or within protected areas, and at the moment more and more areas are defining themselves as ecotourism destinations with a network of well-organized and specific tourism infrastructure.
All these process has been developed and is implemented in a partnership with National Institute for Research and Development in Tourism (INCDT), Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and the Association of Ecotourism in Romania (AER).
Natural attractions of the protected areas, and we name only a few of them- Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, the natural parks from the Carpathians, Nature 2000 sites, together with the cultural products have already fostered Romania to reach a top position at the European level.