Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Rural Tourism in the Romanian Carpathians

Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Rural Tourism in the Romanian Carpathians

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the context of an increasingly harsh contemporary globalization process, the multiple problems specific to rural spaces are intensifying, rendering in this way lasting alternatives to traditional economic activities specific to these. One such underlying issue is illustrated by the gradual, yet irreversible, terrain reductions on which rural communities in all European countries would rely for their traditional ways of living, thus often imposing the creation of new forms of activities as economical alternatives. Given this context, in Romania can still be found a majority of agricultural land, which means 62% of its overall surface, and which contains more than 50% of the country's population. If in other European Union States governmental subsidies vary between 270 and 300 Euros per hectare (in 2009), in Romania the farmers benefit only of a modest sum of 82 Euros per hectare (in 2009), even though they rank eight on the EU allocation hierarchy for this particular sector (2.1 billion Euros/2009). Similarly, reducing the forest surface (by excessive and uncontrolled deforestation) and also enlarging the built space constituted the principal cause for the diversified reduction of the agricultural surface in the last twenty years, taking also into account the varied natural conditions in which the Romanian rural space is situated.

In this sense, rural tourism, practiced for more than a century without being known by this term, has appeared in the last decades as such an alternative, and has been facilitated by the individual investments of those who either had left the rural space to seek work abroad, or of those who had returned from urban centres where the distortions recorded in the industry and work spheres had great consequences on the rise of unemployment. The varied forms of tourism practiced today in the rural landscape constitute the very effect for the attractiveness specific to the three relatively balanced forms of relief (the Carpathians; hills and plateaus; plains) in which the rural landscape is divided: a diverse climate, mineral and thermal springs, rivers and lakes, and a varied biodiversity. To all these can also be added the attractiveness of the rural settlements themselves, from the smallest villages found in the highest mountains, together with their pastoral traditions, to more numerous ones on hills and plateaus, and finally to those that populate the plains, also known as the "country's agricultural heart". All these can be transformed into wonderful tourist attractions, which would, in turn, offer unique and unforgettable experiences to tourists willing to try the Romanian rural landscape out. In addition, the diversity and richness of the anthropogenic tourism potential (traditional architecture, culture, pilgrimages, and also local gastronomy) represent a big plus for the rural tourism in the Carpathians.

From the great diversity of its tourist potential, which, in time, imposed particular forms of rural tourism, our study has concentrated on those specific to the Romanian Carpathian space. If, overall, the Carpathians, by virtue of their size, form an essential part of Europe's landscape, the Romanian Carpathian land distinguishes itself through a high density in population which, in time, functioned to render a vast array of cultural possibilities. All these managed to maintain unaltered both historical and cultural traditions gained through lengthy, yet harmonious, cohabitation with people of various other nationalities, or multicultural elements given by the mix of Hungarian, Roma, German, Ukrainian, Russian, Turkish, Tartar, and Macedo-Romanian people. As these are reflected through Romanian art and folklore, and coupled with the country's renowned hospitality. Romania is priding itself to hold an important part of the worldwide cultural heritage, exemplified by the painted monasteries in Bucovina, the Dacian fortresses in the Orastie Mountains, the fortified churches in Transylvania, the fortified town of Sighisoara, etc. …

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