Eco-tourism: Feasibility study for a Large carnivore center

Project location: Romania, Carpathians
Project start date: December 2000 - Project end date: February 2001
Project number: 2000-02
Beneficiary: Carpathian Large Carnivore Project

Final Report


The two main results of the study are as follows:
  • the quarry and eco-tourism options are mutually exclusive
  • the figures are strongly in favour of eco-tourism, both in terms of local job creation and of revenues accruing to the local community




    More specifically:

    • The eco-tourism strategy consisting of 8-day visits by foreign groups, the Horse- Riding Centre and the Large Carnivore Centre could not be sustained or expanded if the proposed granite quarry was exploited, since the latter would involve 40-tonne lorries travelling up and down a narrow scenic valley, which is central to local ecotourism, once every 8 minutes for the first 6 years and once every 4 minutes thereafter.
    • The quarry, on the information supplied by the company, would be financially viable with an internal rate of return of 19%. It would create up to 45 jobs for years 1-6 and up to 90 jobs thereafter. The Local Council would receive compensation payments of approximately €2,100 per year and a share of profit tax of around €22,000 for the first 6 years and double thereafter.
    • Numbers in eco-tourist groups on 8 day visits would grow from 550 in 2001 to approximately 2260 in 2005 and 2870 in 2010. The local spend by these groups would grow from €273,000 in 2001 to €1,027,000 in 2005 and €1,300,000 in 2010. The number of full-time equivalent jobs in each of these years would be 31 in 2001, 91 in 2005 and 115 in 2010. Revenues to the Local Council from this element of ecotourism would consist of a share of profit taxes paid by local tourism businesses (estimated using the lowest marginal tax band of 18%) and a share of the levy on tour groups paid via the Community Development and Conservation Fund. This income would rise from €10,100 in 2001 to €81,000 in 2005 and €131,000 in 2010.
    • The number of horse-riders on guided visits and day trips would rise from  approximately 100 in 2001 to 320 in 2005 and 380 in 2010. Full-time equivalent jobs created would be 8 in 2001 (including construction), 5 in 2005 and 6 in 2010. The share of profit tax revenues to the Local Council from the HRC would rise from €95 in 2001 to €3,900 in 2005 and €5,200 2010. The Horse Riding Centre would be financially viable, with or without the hay meadows, but there are good ecological and scenic reasons for including them.
    • The Large Carnivore Centre would also be financially viable, though not as a purely commercial investment (as the estimated internal rate of return is 7%). Based on rather cautious estimates of the share of visitors the LCC would attract from nearby Bran Castle and the Piatra Craiului National Park we forecast visitor numbers to grow from an initial 66,000 in 2002 to 87,000 in 2005 and 102,000 in 2010. Most would be Romanians, thus providing a vital educational tool about living with and conserving the unique concentration of large carnivores still surviving in their mountains. Total employment created from this element of eco-tourism would be 54 jobs in 2002 (including construction), 46 in 2005 and 49 in 2010. Profits from the LCC will be paid to the Community Development and Conservation Fund with 25% going to the Local Council. This source of revenue for the Local Council would rise from approximately €8,000 in 2003 to €29,000 in 2005 and €148,000 in 2010.

    • Adding the three eco-tourism elements (tourist groups, LCC and HRC) together is projected to create significantly more local jobs than the quarry option. In 2005, for example, the quarry would be directly responsible for around 45 jobs while ecotourism would directly account for some 140 full-time equivalent jobs (see Figure 1).
    • The three eco-tourism elements provide significantly higher revenues for the local council than the quarry option. In 2005 the quarry would provide some €24,000 in comparison to €85,000 from eco-tourism (see Figure 2).
    • The eco-tourism option would also provide significant payments via the Community Development and Conservation Fund to support local conservation in the Piatra Craiului National Park and local large carnivore research and conservation. These payments are forecast to total €62,000 in 2005. The quarry proposal does not envisage any such funding.
    • The institutional arrangements for the LCC and HRC appear sound and are well integrated into the broader eco-tourism development strategy through the Zarnesti Eco-tourism Association (ZETA). The management of the Piatra Craiului National Park would gain financially from a successful LCC. They also see the LCC as a complement rather than a substitute to their proposed visitor centre (which would focus on the broad range of flora and fauna in the Park).
  • Carpathian Large Carnivore Project
    an initiative of the Carpathian Wildlife Foundation
    think global, act local
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