According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism is a form of tourism that meets the needs of present tourists and host regions, while protecting and enhancing the opportunity for the future. It aims at having a low impact upon the environment and local culture; generating income and employment; and ensuring the conservation of local ecosystems. This paper aims to examine the ways in which the development and promotion of a new tourism product based on unique rural heritage and traditions contribute to the development of sustainable tourism by relating the practices to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) 1, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 17.
Drawing on a literature review on the topic of sustainable rural tourism, this paper uses a case-study methodological approach and provides an example of a sustainable rural tourism destination from the North Western development region of Romania (Cluj County, Transylvania) to depict specific sustainable tourism practices. The study uses a comprehensive desk-research based on secondary data from key industry and academic sources.
The research findings show that sustainable rural tourism can greatly support the development of rural destination and makes a significant contribution to the sustainable development of the Romanian tourism industry, in general, and rural economies in particular, as shown in the case examined in the paper. Sâncraiu represents an example of sustainable tourism practices that contribute to poverty reduction (SDG1 – Target 1.A), provide decent work and ensure economic growth (SDG8 – Target 8.9), help reducing inequalities (SDG10 – Target 10.3), protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage (SDG 11 – Target 11.4), promote responsible consumption and production (SDG 21 – Target 12.b) and last but not least this destination demonstrates that development is only possible when partnerships are forged (SDG 17).
This paper illustrates that fostering unique rural heritage and traditions can contribute to the sustainable development of destinations. Sustainable tourism practices contribute not only financially to a destination but also to its social infrastructures, jobs, nature conservation, adoption of new working practices and the revitalisation of passive and poor rural areas.
This paper examines and depicts sustainable rural tourism development as a transformative strategy contributing to the long-term viability of a rural destination. The research findings can be viewed as an example of good practice, which may be applicable to other geographic regions with similar contexts.
Gica, O.A., Coros, M.M., Moisescu, O.I. and Yallop, A.C. (2021), "Transformative rural tourism strategies as tools for sustainable development in Transylvania, Romania: a case study of Sâncraiu", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 124-138. https://doi.org/10.1108/WHATT-08-2020-0088
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