Certification system

AER considered of critical importance to create the Ecotourism Certification System as a mechanism for putting into practice the basic principles of ecotourism, in order to ensure nature conservation and sustainable development of local communities through tourism. This is an important step in the wider context given that since March 2003 the World Tourism Organization has recommended governments to support the initiatives that promote the certification in sustainable tourism.

The Ecotourism Certification System developed by AER has adapted the international experience to the Romanian context. It is based on theNature and Ecotourism Accreditation Programme promoted by the Australian Ecotourism Association (NEAP is the first accreditation system in ecotourism) and on Nature’s Best developed by the Swedish Ecotourism Association (the first accreditation system in ecotourism in the northern hemisphere).

The Ecotourism Certification System addresses two different categories of applicants:

  • ecotourism programmes / tours provided by tour-operators (i.e. eco-tours of maximum 15 participants),
  • small-scale accommodation structures in rural and natural areas (eco-lodges and guesthouses of maximum 25 rooms).

AER has identified a series of benefits that can be brought by implementing the Ecotourism Certification System, such as:

  • helps clients to better identify those products that can offer awesome nature and rural culture experiences,
  • raises the level of trust in the Romanian ecotourism product on the international tourist market,
  • becomes a marketing tool for tour-operators and guesthouse owners,
  • enhances the quality of the ecotourism services,
  • contributes actively to nature conservation and leads to sustainable local development,
  • supports local administrations of protected areas for development of low impact tourism,
  • offers a platform for common activities between the business sector and nature conservation entities.

The Ecotourism Certification System has been developed in partnership with Green Cross Romania and co-funded by the Environmental Partnership Foundation.