Photo: Laszlo Potozky
strategic priority
Rural Economy
December 2014 – July 2020 (Phase 1 & Phase 2)
Ecotourism destinations
Apuseni Pădurea Craiului

The program accelerates establishment of ecotourism destinations and supports the creation of a national network of ecotourism destinations in Romania. The aim of this program is to contribute to the economic development of local communities, nature conservation and local culture and development, and to position Romania as an important ecotourism destination.


Romania is one of the most biodiverse countries in Europe. The 27 national and natural parks, the Natura 2000 network and the cultural and historical heritage make this country an ideal ecotourism destination.

In 2012, Romania was the first European country to develop a national methodology for the assessment and establishment of ecotourism destinations. Four such areas have been established up to now: Zărnești-Piatra Craiului, Mara-Cosău-Creasta Cocoșului, Țara Hațegului – Parcul Național Retezat and Vânători-Neamț.

An ecotourism destination is a micro-region with remarkable natural and cultural assets, where sustainable tourism can be conducted, offering integrated experiences with minimal environment impact, by aggregating a network of complementary ecotourism service providers under the same common marketing and development strategy.

The areas most suitable for ecotourism are, at the same time, among the last developed in Romania, with low revenues, no economic opportunities and, many times, jeopardized by an “industrial” approach to development: deforestation, mass tourism or other activities that place nature and the unique values of the area at risk.



“The Development of Ecotourism Destinations in Romania” is an integrated program, developed in partnership with Fundația pentru Parteneriat (as a coordinator and strategic partner) and Asociația pentru Ecoturism din România (technical assistance partner), joined by other specialized partners. The program is developed along three strategic lines:

To support local organizations in at least seven micro-destinations with ecotourism potential to create sustainable plans and local institutions to help develop the area as an ecotourism destination.
To contribute to the public debate about ecotourism, by bringing best practices and lessons learned during the implementation of the program before decision makers.
To communicate about and promote Romania as an ecotourism destination, both locally and nationally.

The brochure Ecodestinations – A Model of Leadership and Sustainable Local Development takes a closer look at the program, from the theory of change to the program model, recommendations and good practices, as well as case studies.

The seven ecotourism destinations included in the RAF program are:
Băile Tușnad, Eco Maramureș, Pădurea Craiului, Colinele Transilvaniei, Țara Dornelor, Țara Hațegului – Retezat, Ținutul Zimbrului.

For more information about events in the ecotourism destinations, please access this link:

Infrastructure and specific services involved in local partnerships (2014-2019):

  • 62 protected areas
  • 84 communities
  • 162 pansions
  • 121 local tour guides
  • 48 small producers


The speed and success with which ecotourism destinations are set up depend a lot on the quality of the local partnership created for this purpose. The more involved the partners in this initiative are, the better the chances for a destination to work as programmed.

Laszlo Potozky
Director, Fundația pentru Patreneriat

I believe the initiative of establishing ecotourism destinations is revolutionizing the tourism management system in Romania. Taking into account that in other countries this concept is already well-established, ours is a belated revolution, which makes our role as managers of an ecotourism destination all the more important. I like challenging projects and I am excited to be part of this revolution.

For me, a destination means first and foremost a partnership. The geographic area and the infrastructure come after that. I see partnership as a learning process through which you build trust and share the benefits. Real change occurs when a partnership is more than the formality a signed document, and creating of a strong local partnership is, in my opinion, the most important task on the agenda of an ecotourism destination manager.

Mihai Dragomir
Manager – Colinele Transilvaniei Ecotourism Destination

Expected Results

managers trained
to manage the needs of the ecotourism destinations
ecotourism destinations set up until 2019
ecotourism destination set up until 2024
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