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Colinele Transilvaniei / Transylvanian Highlands receive certification as an ecotourism destination

November 25, 2022

Three counties, 260,000 hectares of protected natural areas, 44 communities that offer soulful experiences for Romanian and foreign tourists. Fortified churches, UNESCO sites, traditional Saxon houses renovated and converted into guesthouses, 600 kilometers of marked tourist trails and pathways, for hiking or cycling, in a natural landscape that people have kept almost unspoiled here for hundreds of years.

These are some of the attributes of the Transylvanian Highlands, the new ecotourism destination recently certified by the Romanian Ministry of Tourism. The area covers part of Brașov, Mureș and Sibiu counties and is geographically delimited by the rivers Târnava Mare, Olt and the Hârtibaciu basin. The certification, obtained following an evaluation process, recognizes "the development of the Colinele Transilvaniei destination on sustainable principles" and will be able to be used to promote tourist experiences in the area for a period of three years.

"The adventure of having an ecotourism destination in the Transylvania area began over 10 years ago, when a local initiative group saw ecotourism as a way to help this area, with well-preserved natural and cultural values, to develop in a balanced way using these values as main attraction elements for tourists. And that worked, first for visitors from abroad, who appreciated the uniqueness of the experiences in the Transylvanian Highlands, then, in the last five years, more and more, for Romanians as well. It is a great joy for all the organizations that have joined the initiative and that contribute, in many communities in the area, to local development based on ecotourism. At the same time, for those of us involved, it is an honor that obliges us to keep promoting a high standard of tourist experiences and services, in order to keep this certification and remain authentic for our tourists," says Cristina-Ana Iliescu, from the Management Unit of the Destination.

Tourists return to the Transylvanian Highlands for the local culture and traditions, which also include a rich gastronomy, as well as for active holidays in the middle of nature. In the last five years, the percentage of those who come to the area several times a year has increased 4 times, and the duration of visits over 3 nights has doubled. Thus local tourism operators, who promote high standards, are encouraged to continue, and communities recognize the value of nature and the customs they preserve.

The certification of ecotourism destinations in Romania is carried out by the Ministry of Tourism, to promote areas where sustainable tourism is developed, based on the values of protected natural areas and of local communities. Currently, there are three other certified destinations in our country, alongside the Transylvanian Highlands, namely Țara Hațegului-Retezat, Țara Dornelor and Eco-Maramureș.

Thank you to everyone involved, the People from the Highlands who have maintained the valuable nature and culture, the tourists who seek and respect this area, the partners who put each piece of the puzzle on the map of the development of the area and the financiers who believed in us.

Contact person: Cristina-Ana Iliescu Destination Manager 0721 656 416

Let nature tell you stories and enjoy the Transylvanian Highlands!

The Colinele Transilvaniei Ecotourism Destination includes protected areas of national interest and protected areas that are part of the European Natura 2000 network, the largest ecological network in the world, with over 25,000 sites across the continent, including 531 on Romanian territory - 7 of them in our area.

The large number of protected areas makes this area the second largest area in the country with protection status, after the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. It totals 267,438 ha and is home to over 90,000 inhabitants, in 44 communes, spread over 3 counties (Sibiu, Mureș and Brașov).

Transylvania, especially the area contained in the Transylvanian Highlands, is unique in Europe, with a valuable natural and cultural heritage that we must preserve together.

Colinele Transilvanie / Transylvanian Highlands is an initiative of: Mioritics Association, Sibiu County Tourism Association, WWF Romania, ADEPT Transilvania Foundation, Mihai Eminescu Trust Foundation, Monumentum Association, LAG Dealurile Târnavelor, LAG Microregion Hârtibaciu, LAG Podisul Mediaşului, LAG Asociatia Transilvană Braşov Nord and the Foundation Fortified Churches. The partnership is supported by 44 UATs and the County Councils of Sibiu, Mureș and Brașov.

The development of the Colinele Transilvanie / Transylvanian Highlands ecotourism destination is financed through the "Green Entrepreneurship - Development of Ecotourism Destinations in Romania" program, a joint program of the Romanian-American Foundation and the Partnership Foundation and coordinated by the Romanian Ecotourism Association.

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