At the eastern edge of Europe, Romania is perhaps best known for its Black Sea resorts, such as Mamaia and the Greco-Byzantine port of Constanta, and the Danube delta, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its rich wetlands and abundant bird-life. The Transylvanian Alps occupy much of the northern half of the country, the waters of their many spa resorts having been appreciated for their healing properties since Roman times.
Romania offers a rich tapestry tourist attractions and vacation experiences unique in Central-Eastern Europe: medieval towns in Transylvania, the world-famous Painted Monasteries in Bucovina, traditional villages in Maramures, the magnificent architecture of Bucharest, the romantic Danube Delta, fairy-tale castles, the Black Sea resorts, the majestic Carpathian Mountains, spas and much more.
Transylvania is also the legendary home of Bram Stoker's Dracula, based on an infamous medieval king 'Vlad the Impaler' whose spooky abode at Bran Castle may be visited. The northern half of the country is bisected by the great Carpathian Mountains, most of which are covered by pristine mountain forests which shelter one of Europe's last strongholds for large carnivore populations.
Romania is a country with rich biodiversity (ecosystems, species and genetic diversity) and a high percentage of natural ecosystems 47% of the land area of the country is covered with natural and semi-natural ecosystems. The natural integrity of forest ecosystems is indicated by the presence of the full range of European forest fauna, including 60% and 40% of all European brown bears and wolves, respectively. Europe's largest wetland, the Danube Delta, also lies predominantly in Romania. Major grasslands, caves, and an extensive network of rivers, add to the ecosystem richness. Important for Romania as well as for all Europe, is that the territory of Romania is a confluence point between biogeographic regions between arctic, alpine, west and central European, pannonic, balkanic, sub Mediterranean and even eastern colchic. The high level of geographic diversity in Romania and the consequence of its location as a biological confluence place have produced a floral diversity that includes over 3,700 species and fauna diversity estimated to be more than 33,800 species. Many of the wild plant and animal species from the country's territory are endemic or relict with evolution significance and other species like the brown bear, the lynx or the wolf which have disappeared or are hardly surviving in other European countries, in Romania they are in a very good state of conservation.
The Carpathian Mountains are amongst the most pristine ecosystems left in Europe. Here, about 80% are covered with unspoiled mountain forests, which represent the largest contiguous forest ecosystem in Central and Eastern Europe.
Economic Effects of Travel and Tourism
Most of Romania's tourism facilities are run down and operated by incompetent management. In the 1960s, Romania invested heavily in its tourism facilities, especially at the Black Sea, and was at that time successful in attracting international tourists mostly from Germany, Great Britain, Scandinavia, France, Italy, Austria and Belgium. During the eighties, quality of tourist accommodation was not maintained, with a resultant decline in the number of foreign tourists.
During the past ten years, Romania has experienced:
A 20% decline in the number of foreign tourists arriving, from 6.5 million to 5.2 million since 1990; A 14% drop in total number of beds in hotels and accommodation facilities, from 328,000 in 1990 to 283,000 in 1999; A drop in the accommodation occupancy rate from 57.8% to 34.5%; A reduction in the length of stays in accommodation by 61% for Romanian tourists and 53% for foreign tourists.
The national and regional transportation infrastructure is inadequate and represents the main obstacle to the development of the tourism sector....
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