When Vali started his journey in travel business he probably didn’t even know the term “sustainable tourism”. But from the very beginning of his life as a guide he was always thinking about meaningful experiences for his guests much more than about getting thousands of bookings. Adventure Romania has come to principles of sustainability and responsibility in a natural way, we just can’t imagine doing our job in a different way.
So what is “sustainable tourism”?
According to World Tourism Organization:
“Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building. Achieving sustainable tourism is a continuous process and it requires constant monitoring of impacts, introducing the necessary preventive and/or corrective measures whenever necessary.
Sustainable tourism should also maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction and ensure a meaningful experience to the tourists, raising their awareness about sustainability issues and promoting sustainable tourism practices amongst them.” Reference:
Making Tourism More Sustainable – A Guide for Policy Makers, UNEP and UNWTO, 2005, p.11-12
Awh, sounds pretty complicated. Actually, there is much more simple explanation. The word “sustainability” can be replaced with “responsibility”. Already much more understandable, isn’t it?
How to define “responsible tourism”?
Cape Town Declaration from 2002 says:
“Having the following characteristics, Responsible Tourism:
- minimises negative economic, environmental, and social impacts;
- generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, improves working conditions and access to the industry;
- involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances;
- makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world’s diversity;
- provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues;
- provides access for physically challenged people;
- and is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence.”
You can read more about sustainable tourism on Wikipedia. There you will stumble upon an interesting statement, that there is “the disparity in aims between the two groups, i.e. true sustainability versus mass tourism for maximum profit”. This is what makes all the difference.
What we do for responsible travel?
Off-roading. We care about environmental impact. When we go off tarmac roads we don’t drive on untouched ground. Romania is the country with the huge number of remote villages and local rural economy still includes transhumance. Thanks to this there are many forest and mountain roads we can use. You may ask why we say “off-roading” then? Oh, those are only called “roads”, don’t try to go there with a common rented car.
Accommodations. Some of our selected locations are not even listed on Booking.com. You can find amazing and comfy guesthouses and hotels away from well known chain brands. A castle atop a cliff? A medieval mansion? A tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere? Choose what you fancy. And everywhere you will be greeted by an owner who has built the place and runs it with love to his guests and respect to local traditions.
Food. Going to a local market is already a fun! Where else can you see the real life as it is? And, of course, the most fresh and tasty goods come from there. On top of this, you will visit shepherds making cheese in the mountains, eat lunch in a real house cooked same as it has been for centuries and drink the best spirits from family distilleries.
Culture. We will bring you to the source of local traditions. Stories straight from the horse’s mouth, places where time has been frozen a few hundreds years ago, private museums with unique exhibits and much more. In some villages we visit, our cars are the only ones ever arrived there.
You remember? “More enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.” That’s it!