The future of Țara Făgărașului (Romania): how can the local community collaborate for a common future?

May 11, 2023

Author: Cătălina Rogozan (HCC)

Fire flickering in the fireplace, a mix of rain and snow pouring down on the first leafy vegetables that have sprouted in the Cobor household garden, and we, the Highclere Consulting (HCC) research team, finishing the last details of the day. This is the setting in which the MOVING Foresight workshop took place.

To gain a  regional perspective regarding the future of the Southern Carpathians region in Romania, based on the dynamics of sustainable tourism and, more specifically, certified ecotourism, we have focused, within this task, on the Țara Făgărașului micro-region, including the local administrative units of Ucea, Viștea, Drăguș, Sâmbăta de Sus, Lisa, Recea, Hârseni and Șinca.

Our aim was to engage with a diverse group of stakeholders, making sure that we have a well-balanced representation of the three sectors: public, private and NGOs. We managed to bring together 22 local stakeholders, and their input into the discussion on how the future of the area will look in 2050 was very valuable.

For a better understanding of the methodology, we have designed visual materials that presented the two most extremes possible scenarios for the Țara Făgărașului micro-region. The first scenario represents a negative outlook, characterised by the erosion of local identity, abandonment of agricultural activities and land, and chaotic tourism practices that do not contribute to the local economy.  The second scenario portrays a positive vision, where the community recognises the significance of unity and embraces sustainable tourism principles and measures to enhance the region.

We observed that participants believed that the negative scenario would happen if things don’t change. After a discussion on the scenarios, we divided the participants into three groups, considering their typology, for more relevant discussions and results. The three main areas of discussion were: needs and constraints to reach the desired future and steps to be followed.

Most discussions revolved around the following problems: lack of funding, lack of transport and visitor infrastructure, lack of human resources, lack of a Destination Management Organisation, inconsistency in development and promotion, and poor collaboration between authorities, private entities and NGOs.

In the future, the public authorities wish to include the integration of the Intercommunity Development Association Regional Centre for Sustainable Development and Tourism Promotion “Țara Făgărașului” in the Destination Management Organisation developed at the county level of Brașov. In addion,  public authorities are open to develop a Destination Management Organisation at the intra-county level (i.e. Brașov and Sibiu counties). The private sector will focus on supporting vocational schools (craftsmen) and developing internship programmes, organising events for the integrated promotion of the area, opening a dialogue between the public and private sectors, and referring to public authorities the problems encountered by entrepreneurs and concrete proposals for improving legislation.

Civil society representatives proposed the development of a federation of NGOs in Țara Făgărașului, which, together with the Intercommunity Development Association Regional Centre for Sustainable Development and Tourism Promotion “Țara Făgărașului” and the Association of Entrepreneurs of Țara Făgărașului, will compose the coordination and administration board of the micro-region Țara Făgărașului. At the same time, a joint calendar of events will be developed, and communication in the area and promotion of the area will be improved.

Following the conclusions of this meeting, those present expressed their intention to collaborate more closely in the future and even to contribute to the creation of an eco-certified tourism destination Țara Făgărașului, starting by setting up a management organisation, together with stakeholders from Sibiu County, steps that will be followed in 2023 and 2024.

On the HCC website, you can find more information on the foresight workshop for the Romanian case study and you can also download the workshop report.