73% of global travelers intend to stay at least once a year in an ecotourism location.

The Ecodestination Development Program is an ambitious move: it means to bring economic development to seven areas of Romania, by trans­forming them into attractive ecotourism destina­tions.


The Romanian Environmental Partnership Foundation has used its extraordinary experience of working in communities and for environmental programs to select suitable areas and local organi­zations to implement such an approach.

As ecotourism is, in itself, an industry which requires specific expertise, the Association of Ecotourism in Romania played an important part in defining the success criteria and connecting the destinations with the rest of the world. This long-term approach, relying heavily on entrepreneurship, involves much higher risks than a classical program. Whereas in many areas the Romanian-American Foundation uses the principles of a venture capital fund, the design of the program and the funding process were very collaborative and flexible.

The soundest local development is the one that springs from the community. It requires strong lead­ership, a network of involved local partners and a support and funding system that is willing not only to create the rules but to push forward and learn on the go. After this first five-year stage, the Ecod­estinations Program will continue with a new step. We hope that it may inspire other organizations devoted to sustainable investments either to join as partners of the program or to take steps to develop their own programs.

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