Certification scheme for ecotourism destinations

The certification scheme recognizes the efforts to develop an ecotourism destination and allows local public authorities to be involved, together with protected area administrations and the business community, in the process.

History of the development of the certification scheme for ecotourism destinations in Romania

  • In 2005-2007, AER develops the first certification system for destinations within the Eco-Romania certification scheme, together with accommodation services and tourism programs.
  • This system is later revised and the set of criteria for destinations is removed because AER does not have the capacity to implement it without government support.
  • In 2009 the concept of ecotourism destination is defined in the National Ecotourism Strategy developed by the National Institute for Research and Development in Tourism, a document to which AER was a stakeholder and to which it contributed following the public consultation process.
  • In 2011, the Interministerial Working Group for the Development of Ecotourism in Romania (established through Ministerial Order no. 56/14.01.2011) was established under the coordination of the National Authority for Tourism; it is responsible for the implementation of the actions in the strategy and the elaboration and implementation of the criteria for destinations.
  • In 2011 – 2013, the National Tourism Authority coordinated the process of developing the criteria and procedure for the evaluation of ecotourism destinations in Romania.
  • The concept of ecotourism destination was launched by Romania at the European Ecotourism Conference (Poiana Brasov, 2013), agreed upon, and adopted at the European level by the Europarc Federation and national associations from 8 countries.
  • In 2014, the first two ecotourism destinations are evaluated and officially recognized by the National Tourism Authority.
  • The national ecotourism strategy was reviewed in 2015 and 2019.
  • In 2019, the Governmental Decision No 358/2019 is issued to ensure the legal framework for the implementation of the strategy and the evaluation of destinations.

Benefits for destinations with a valid certificate

A local partnership between the local public administration, the private sector, the protected natural area administration, and NGOs acting locally is established, which will lead to the implementation of a destination management structure through its own Destination Management Organisation (DMO) or integration into a DMO (e.g., at the county level).

Clear directions for local tourism development are established.

In the future, certified destinations could also benefit from:

    • Dedicated funding and promotion opportunities.
    • Increased national and international awareness of the destination.

Features of the certification scheme


Inspiration model

The certification scheme for ecotourism destinations is based on the Global Standard for Sustainable Tourism (GSTC) and the European Ecotourism Certification Standard (EETLS).


Categories of criteria

The certification system includes a total of 100 criteria grouped into 5 categories set out in the Annex to Government Decision No 358/2019 on the approval of the National Ecotourism Development Strategy – context, vision, and objectives – 2019 – 2029:

  • Set of preconditions for an ecotourism destination, including attractiveness, accessibility, minimum level of tourist and public services.


Evaluation procedure

  • Pre-evaluation stage – The applicant prepares documentation based on all criteria and submits it to the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Tourism, detailing how each criterion is fulfilled. At this stage, the Evaluation Committee will review the documentation and decide whether the conditions are met to enter the next evaluation stage.
  • On-the-spot evaluation stage – Members of the Evaluation Committee will make a field trip to the destination to verify on the spot that the criteria have been met. Following this process, a decision will be taken whether to recognize the area as an ecotourism destination.

The detailed procedure is published on the website of the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Tourism.

The evaluation commission has 5 members, two representatives from the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Tourism and one each from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests, the National Institute for Research and Development in Tourism and the Association of Ecotourism in Romania (AER).



Ecotourism destination status may be obtained for a maximum period of three years, which may be extended at the applicant’s request.

Current situation of destinations:

Certified Products

The Ecotourism Certification System was created to ensure the conservation of nature and the sustainable development of local communities through tourism. Choose Eco-Romania certified services for a special vacation, responsible towards people and nature!