Eхperience of the Baile-Felix tourist system (Romania) for the protection and promotion of the grey seal as a brand on the Hel Peninsular (Poland)
The Pârâul Pețea Nature Reserve is located in Bihor County (Romania), in the area of the Băile-Felix rural tourist system. It has gained international popularity due to the existence of an ecosystem with thermal waters. Thermal springs are the habitat of rare fauna (Scardinius racovitzai, Melanopsis parreyssi) and flora species including the unique Nymphaea lotus var. thermalis, a tertiary relict lotus flower. Situated on the Hel Peninsula of the Baltic Sea, Hel Marine Station (HMS) is one of the most interesting tourist attractions thanks to the project aimed at the protection of the grey seal in the Polish waters. We employed a number of tools and methods (including observation and monitoring) over a period of three years for the creation of a comprehensive database. We studied the actual condition of separate elements of the two tourist systems and compared the two tourist destinations. We identified differences and similarities between the two places. The lotus flower and the grey seal have become an integral part of the local, national and international collective mentality. Special attention was paid to the causes of almost total extinction of rare species despite being indispensable elements in the promotion and rebranding of the two tourist destinations. We explored the degree of knowledge and the awareness of their value in the local mentality.