Virginia Gherasim - Christian University 'Dimitrie Cantemir', Bucharest, Faculty of Tourism Geography in Sibiu, Romania
George W White* - South Dakota State University
Sustainable tourism is a necessity for the economic viability of tourist destinations, the preservation of environmental quality, and the needs of local communities. Through the comparison of the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Apuseni Mountains of Romania, this study's prime objective is to identify the way in which individuals involved in tourist activities understand sustainable development and put it into practice as they harness the natural and human resources of these two geographical areas. Another objective of this study is to compare the impacts of individuals' decisions on the development of tourist destinations in each of these regions. The applied methodology primarily employs sociological analysis during fieldwork. Information has been gathered on the economic and regional development benefits of tourism with attention given to general economic effects and specific tourist activities on the natural and built landscape. Of concern is the level of quality of life and employment opportunities for residents brought with tourist activities. Recognition also is given to the impacts on local culture and the emergence of social problems. Competitiveness of factors also affects levels of sustainability. Overall, this study provides for an understanding of the challenges and opportunities of competitiveness in the Black Hills and the Apuseni Mountains and presents comparative management strategies of tourist destinations. The Black Hills and the Apuseni Mountains have many similarities. The differences also exist and result not only from their unique geographical conditions but also from the competitiveness of tourism activities and the management of various development strategies.