Rural Tourism and Its Dimension: A Case of Transylvania, Romania

Rural Tourism and Its Dimension: A Case of Transylvania, Romania

Monica Maria Coroș (Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1423-8.ch013
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This chapter aims at identifying the role and perspectives of rural tourism in one of Romania's most attractive destinations, Transylvania. Rural tourism and rurality are conceptualized, followed by a literature review on the major pillars of rural tourism. Identified elements are linked to Transylvania's resources aiming at assessing its rural tourist potential, focusing on the area's rural tourism supply and demand. Potential recommendations include to work on the further development of rural and agritourism in Transylvania's multicultural villages, building promotion strategies around success cases such as Mărginimea Sibiului, Sâncraiu, Şirnea and the entire Bran-Fundata-Moieciu area, Viscri and the Saxon heritage, the UNESCO Heritage sites. Nature and wilderness are important differentiation elements. The success of any destination can only be achieved based on the joint efforts of all stakeholders. Thus, DMO strategies are formulated. To be internationally competitive, Transylvania must capitalize on its unique assets and it must provide diversified and integrated services.
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Previous studies regarding Romanian tourism have revealed that the performance of Romania as a tourist destination is below the potential of its available resources (Coroș & Negrușa, 2014; Pop, Coroș, & Balint, 2017). One of the main causes for this situation is related to the inappropriate development of the tourist lodging facilities, foodservice units, and leisure amenities, combined with the inadequate and inconsequent international promotion of uncompetitive destinations and tourist products. For years, Romanian authorities have insisted on advertising seaside resorts, while foreign visitors were mainly oriented towards cultural and rural destinations and products. This chapter aims at presenting some successful cases of rural tourism in Transylvania with the purpose of contributing to the development of this type of tourism in the same destination and in other Romanian destinations.

Rural tourism provides countries the possibility of diversifying their rural economies, by creating new workplaces, enabling the protection and development of local cultures and traditions. Many Central and Eastern-European countries enjoy a valuable heritage of natural resources (mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, hills, plateaus, plains, etc.) with a generous rural life (abundant in: crafts, traditional music and folklore, local gastronomy, etc.) enriched by a highly varied rural heritage (castles and fortresses, churches, even entire villages, etc.). This heritage is combined with and supported by activities that take place in rural destinations (hiking, climbing, hose-back-riding, fishing and hunting, trekking, cycling, and also rural experiences that involve gastronomy, wine and/or cheese tasting, arts and crafts, etc.), and which constitute the ingredients of successful rural tourism. Rural tourism and ecotourism constitute, perhaps, the most appropriate ways of discovering Romania (Postelnicu & Dabija, 2016). At the end of 2014, the prestigious British travel guide, Lonely Planet, included Romania in the top 10 countries to be discovered in 2015. Furthermore, towards the end of October 2015, the same guide nominated Transylvania as the number one destination of 2016 (Smădeanu, 2015). Rural culture should represent the main element of the promotion of Romania’s tourism.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Embryonic Destination: Tourist destinations which rely on a single attraction around which certain services begin to develop later.

Agri-Tourist Boarding House/Guesthouse/Pension: Lodging facility organized on the premises of the peasant’s farm, usually in their home but also in independent buildings, providing accommodation services in not more than 8 rooms with maximum 16 beds. They also provide foodservices, using products from their own crops and farms, respectively, guests are provided access to furbished cooking spaces, where they can prepare their own meals. Guests have the possibility to experience authentic rural life, if desired, getting involved in specific agricultural and farm-related activities, crafts, traditional folk activities, etc.

Individual Attraction: Tourist destinations which possess only one tourist attraction, without any services developed around it.

Transylvania: From the international tourists’ perspective, this Romanian region includes today not only the historic homonymous province but also the following provinces: Banat, Cri?ana, and Maramure?.

Administrative Territorial Unit: Official term used for referring to any type of locality (commune, town or municipality) which has its own managing authority (city/town hall and local council); villages as territories integrated in communes are not here included.

Rural Tourism: Type of tourism that takes part in the countryside, capitalizing on the natural, human-built, and cultural heritage on the area, involving the local population in the provision of various types of services (accommodation, food, leisure and entertainment, nature exploration, guiding, traditional craft and arts, folklore, etc.) and contributing to the well-being of the residents.

Tourist Boarding House/Guesthouse/Pension: Accommodation facility with a capacity of at most 20 rooms and 60 beds, which is established in urban and/or rural areas, functioning either in independent buildings or within the residence of the owner-manager. It is either equipped with kitchen and dining room, or it provides access to cooking spaces and food-serving areas, for own use.

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