Sustainable tourism became an important subject since the number of tourists increased and their actions started to impact the places they visit. A large number of travelers in one place affect the lives of those living there and the whole environment. Even though tourism is an important way to raise the economy of an area, a bad management of it can create imbalances.
So what does sustainable tourism mean?
Sustainable tourism is the one that establishes a balance between the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development. It respects and supports the local communities, it takes care of environment and nature, offering the travelers an experience rather than just a visit. It is the only way to make sure that we enjoy the beautiful places of this world and also let our children enjoy it.
Sustainable tourism in Romania was not a focus until recently. Romania is a destination on the rise, so we don’t face a large number of tourists yet. But every year it becomes more known around the world and some places started to be very busy (Bran castle for example). But tourism is a great way for economic growth so we need to prepare to take advantage of it, keeping in mind the fact that it needs to be a healthy growth!
What did we do in 2018 to support a sustainable tourism in Romania?
Focusing on experiences
There are tours and there are experiences. We (Secret Romania) started with creating tours and then we added experiences in them. When you visit an attraction, is not only what you see. Stories about that attraction, details about people that lived there and interesting, secret facts about it make from a simple visit a true experience.
In 2018 our travelers enjoyed not only the main attractions in Romania, but also they experienced the local life, the traditional food and activities that made them understand what Romania is about. A holiday with experiences is a holiday full of memories. And the first step in a sustainable tourism is understanding the place you visit.
Working with local suppliers (accommodation, transport and restaurants)
We considered the second condition of a sustainable tourism the support of local suppliers. And that is the major change we did in 2018. We started to work 80% with local suppliers. This way we could offer accommodation as experience: a night in a castle, sleep in old villas with history, interact with locals and stay at the country side.
With food we had a ton of local possibilities. So we included in our tours the known restaurants but also some food experiences: eating in the back yard of locals, tasting home made bread, traditional dishes and delicious wines.
For car rental we started to work with small businesses. This way we make sure that all the segments necessary in tourism have the opportunity to grow.
Experiences are fun, but only the safe ones. And the safety of our travelers is the most important thing. Fortunately, Romania is a safe country and we don’t have the threats that other countries are facing (neither the natural nor the social ones). But we still have some details to take care of. The weather is one of them. We don’t organize tours on bad weather if the roads are dangerous or the activities have some risks. We refuse requests that we think can end up bad. We choose suppliers that respect the standard qualities. We design the itineraries customized on out travelers needs.
Respecting the local traditions and the environment
People are more and more interested in what local, authentic means. With the globalization we risk to lose the authentic element, to destroy the specificity of places. That is why we try to show in our tours how local communities live without interfering in their lives, without affecting them in any way and with respect for their customs. The biggest challenge is to reconcile the travelers curiosity with the locals need of space.
People are also interested to explore the secret gems, to discover the virgin natural corners, to visit what the environment has to offer. Here we were lucky because we didn’t have to do anything: all our guests loved and respected nature.
Sustainable tourism is not trend, a fashion. It is a way of visiting the world and leaving a healthy legacy for those coming after. What we did in 2018 is just the beginning, as it is sustainable tourism in Romania. But this start set the path for the future and we intend to follow it.