One would think that any region lucky enough to become a tourist hot spot should feel blessed and grateful, but in tourism the line between beneficial and harmful is very thin.
The ideas and practices of responsible tourism try to minimize the negative impact the mass tourism industry can have on the economy, social life, local culture or on the environment.
When talking about the social aspects, it is important that the people play a central role in the development of tourism in their areas. Involving the local communities in the decision taking process is an essential step in the sustainable tourism development. While rural Romania continues to be the poor relative of urban Romania, things could change for the better through a responsible tourism approach, which aims to distribute all benefits to the members of the community.
A key role in responsible tourism is held by the local culture, with the emphasis laid on promoting the local flavour and lifestyle, the traditions, the local gastronomy and crafts.
It’s hard not to fall in love with these places and the people inhabiting them when visiting Transylvania so giving something in return comes very easy. A good starting point is spending your money on local businesses. Forget about big chain hotels and go for something with local flavour. Search for heritage monuments, inquire about the local culture, be curious about traditions and customs. And maybe more than anything, try to replace the most famous and sometimes overrated tourist landmarks with places in which the tourists do not normally set foot. You’ll soon discover that this habit will enrich your travels.
Buying local products from local markets is one of the most clever things you can do. In a period when supermarket chains are grasping the market, there is even a local current that tries to make Romanians living in the city aware of the importance of such a habit. The small amount of money you pay farmers for their cheese, eggs, fruits or vegetables are the guarantee they can continue working their small scale farms. Also the full of flavor milk or cheese which come from the flower-filled meadows you see around villages is cheaper than the beautifully packaged products in the supermarket.
If the number of tourists that care about experiencing authenticity grows, the tourism industry will have no choice but to react to that demand. Perhaps that will help preserve some measure of heritage and culture.
Lately a significant number of guest houses are embracing sustainable tourism. Implemented correctly, these sound tourism practises are not only assuring a long and healthy life for these kind of places but they are also cost effective.
Whenever possible travel by train, use buses or the public transport. It’s a good occasion to feel the vibe of the places you visit.
Cycling is the ideal way to visit new places. It does not only allow you to cover great lengths in a manner in which you can also feel the life of the places you see, but it is also healthy and environment friendly. We all know how difficult it is to spare time for exercising when travelling so a bike trip might just do the trick.
As many accommodations now offer bikes for rent and new bike trails were marked around Transylvania, how can you best enjoy the slow paced life of the places other than riding your bike through villages on their low traffic roads?