Mihaela SIMA, Romanian Academy, Institute of Geography, Romania
Monica DUMITRASCU, Romanian Academy, Institute of Geography, Romania
Ines GRIGORESCU, Romanian Academy, Institute of Geography, Romania
Andra COSTACHE, University Valahia Targoviste, Faculty of Humanistic Sciences, Geography Department, Romania
Coastal ecosystems (beaches and sand-dunes) deliver a wide range of ecosystem services, support to biodiversity and human-wellbeing. Public awareness and engagement on the value of these ecosystems, especially in protected areas, is essential for their proper management and conservation, but also to resisting to the increasing interest in coastal development. This is the case of Vadu Beach, a wild beach located in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve (DDBR), which became a tourist attraction in the last years, mostly preferred by camping enthusiasts. The tourist’s interest for the wild, remote spaces increased even more with the COVID-19 pandemic, for their benefits in terms of quietness and social distancing.
The current study aims to evaluate tourists’ perception of the socio-cultural values provided by the coastal ecosystems of Vadu Beach, intangible benefits as recreational, aesthetic, spiritual or cognitive. A questionnaire was distributed online to the Facebook groups of visitors (June-September 2021) to assess their familiarity with the place, the degree of awareness regarding the specific rules of a wild protected beach, the perception of cultural ecosystem services, as well as the satisfaction regarding the management of the ecosystem. The sample gathered 225 respondents. The results of the survey indicate a high emotional attachment of tourists to the Vadu beach and the concern to maintain its spirit, to limit development, and to be involved in the conservation and protection of the place. Tourists suggested a variety of management options to better preserve and protect its wilderness and promote a sustainable tourism without compromising the specificity of the space. In this sense, a greater involvement of the DDBR authorities is required, both in terms of education, control and management, a better collaboration between authorities and tourists allowing a proper conservation of the coastal ecosystems. The research is part of the PIMEO-AI ERA-NET project
Keywords: coastal ecosystems|tourist’s perception|socio-cultural ecosystem services|Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve