MOVING: Cross-country visit to Romania

Between the 22nd and 26th of April, we hosted a regional cross-country visit to Romania, welcoming three MOVING partners and their stakeholders that showed a keen interest in sustainable forms of tourism (sustainable tourism being either the main VC studied within MOVING or part of the assemblage): North Macedonia (rural tourism), Hungary (agroecological knowledge) and Serbia (Sjenica lamb Protected Designation of Origin). 

The Cross-Country Visit began in the Zărnești – Piatra Craiului eco destination, the first certified eco destination in Romania. The participants engaged in a series of meetings and discussions involving key stakeholders for the implementation of certified ecotourism in the area. The president of The Association of Ecotourism in Romania presented the steps taken to implement the concept of ‘certified eco-tourism’ in Romania, as well as the main characteristics of this concept, while the director of the Piatra Craiului National Park described the status of national parks in Romania, the role and characteristics of Piatra Craiului National Park and how we can include tourism in protected areas. 

The participants discovered local value chains that contribute to the resilience and sustainability of the mountain area: 

  • An eco-certified guesthouse and guiding service provider that has at the core of its activity the integration of the local community in its value chain and the preservation of local biodiversity.
  • A young local entrepreneur who specialised in beekeeping and it is collecting high-quality honey. 

Furthermore, the participants could also observe the negative impact of mass tourism in the nearby villages and the importance of preserving the local traditional architecture for maintaining the natural landscape, the main asset of the area. 

The Cross-Country Visit continued in Țara Hațegului – Retezat eco destination, where the participants met and discussed with the key members of the management unit of the eco destination. The manager of the Retezat Tourism Association, the management unit coordinating the development and promotion of the eco destination, introduced the participants to the beginnings of the association and the strategic partnership in this area, as well as the role of the association and the main activities carried out. 

Representatives from local natural, cultural and scientific attractions (Grădiștea Muncelului – Cioclovina Natural Park, Hațeg Country UNESCO Global Geopark, Retezat National Park) presented good practice examples of using natural resources and attractions in a responsible manner while preserving and conserving the local biodiversity and engaging and working with the local community (e.g.: by involving youth in the largest voluntary activity at national level, or by carrying out education and awareness-raising activities on the profession of shepherd and the importance of preserving this tradition). 

For a better understanding of the local context, the participants visited the Geopark House, where they were introduced to the thematic trail, and they visited two local producers: 

  • Cămara din Totești is a family-owned small business that specialised in jams processing from local flora (lilac, jasmine, poppy, violets).
  • The participants discovered the preparation process of the ‘virșli’ – a sausage specific to Hunedoara county. 

The Cross-Country Visit ended with a stop at Mălăiești Fortress, where we discussed the importance of cultural heritage rehabilitation, which has a positive impact on the well-being of the local community. 

The feedback received from the participants was very good, highlighting the importance of hosting this type of cross-visit within the project. The participants appreciated the honest and insightful presentations and discussions and the networking with the Romanian stakeholders All participants agreed that they were able to discover new possibilities, be inspired and take home new ways of doing business in mountain areas.