Passport to paradise: Top destinations for summer 2019

Paul Barbu 15/06/2019 | 08:00

What keeps you going, working eight hours a day, Monday to Friday, week after week? Yup! The thought that for a week or two in the summer you’ll relax in the sun on a Greek island, jet away to an exotic paradise, or simply wander off the beaten track.  

In the last few years Romanians have started to look beyond the traditional choices of soaking up the sun on a Turkish or Greek beach, and have started showing interest in going further afield, even as far as getting a taste of Egyptian culture. That’s why the summer now begins somewhere in April and ends in November.

“Antalya is on the roll, but it can’t be said to be unusual. Antalya has been fashionable for several years, and from one year to another, demand for this destination is growing. Egypt is another desirable destination and falls into the least commonplace through the unique experiences it offers: contact with a culture different from ours, the opportunity to get to know the history of ancient Egypt and so on. Budgets for vacations like these are, on average, EUR 400-450 per person for a package that includes seven nights’ accommodation and charter flight,” said Raluca Hatmanu, marketing and communications director, Christian Tour.

Cheaper and more unusual destinations

With summer approaching, consumers are turning their thoughts to new destinations, new horizons, and new places to discover. And Europe is rich with such travel opportunities. If you have already visited Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam and Vienna, what other hidden gems can be seen without emptying your wallet?

“Tbilisi, Georgia, is probably one of the best ten capitals in Europe. Since Tbilisi is now connected directly to Bucharest by plane, you can discover this true gem. Built around a river, fully using the hilly neighborhood, Tbilisi offers three generations of wonderfully restored architecture – the traditional 18th- 19th century old city which amazingly resembles traditional Balkan architecture, the Imperial Tsarist Russian grand avenues and the gloomier, but equally impressive, Soviet avenues. The food is excellent and the wine is divine – wine in Georgia is not a drink, it is a religion. Walk the old city, discover its churches and houses, discover the surprising Muslim neighborhood, spectacularly built on a steep hill, and enjoy this friendly city,” recommends tourism consultant Cezar Dumitru.

Another cheap and beautiful destination is Chisinau, Moldova. The city does not really boast incredible architecture – although you might come across a few highlights – but is about relaxing, taking a stroll, eating fantastic food and enjoying good wine. In fact, the most spectacular sights in Moldova are around wine – two real underground cities where wine is stored for ages, Cricova and Milestii Mici.

Dumitru also tips Tallinn, Estonia. “Want to play Hansel and Gretel? Go to Tallinn, a city which looks like it’s made of gingerbread. Tallinn has two old towns – the merchants’ one (Lower Town) and the nobles’ ones (Upper Town) – delightful old cobbled streets, fantastic views (climb the City Hall or Cathedral tower), excellent restaurants and markets. In some areas, you might feel lost in a maze, but don’t worry – it is a delightful maze,” he says.

Outside the old town, there is an Imperial Palace of the Russian tsars and one of the nicest Marine Museums in the region (including military vessels for fans). It is an extremely green city, so when the sun shines you feel like you’re in a wonderland. For a bit of a change, take a ferry and in two hours, you are in the more austere, but equally interesting Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

Luxury trips – the exotic that we all dream about

“At Eturia we have prepared a selection of amazing traveling destinations: exotic beaches like the Seychelles, Mauritius, Zanzibar and the Dominican Republic and destinations that are perfect for interesting tours like China, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Madagascar, the USA and Malaysia,” said Daniela Shah, co-owner of Eturia.

The cost for a seaside holiday is about EUR 1,400 per person, all inclusive. For a tour prices start at EUR 1,600, depending on the destination, and everything is organized, you only have to enjoy the journey.

“Club Eturia Traveller members appreciate custom-made services, because they want a holiday that suits them perfectly. Eturia offers both a wide range of vacations, in more than 100 destinations, and a team of experts that travel constantly and knows exactly how to customize every holiday for every traveler. Our clients are interested in authentic journeys, they like to travel off the beaten track and really discover a destination, with its culture and people,” said Shah.

In general, holidaymakers prefer to travel in high season because good weather is essential, and it is also important to them how many hours they have to spend on the plane. They pay attention to where the hotel is located and the ratings received by the locations.

High rollers’ holidays

Acording to Razvan Pascu, marketing tourism consultant, when it comes to tourism, luxury is not necessarily connected to distance, and in his opinion is the most complicated thing to define.

“I have visited boutique hotels in Europe where the average price per night was more than EUR 1,000. And I have seen incredible homes and even castles in France, Ireland and Scotland where tourists can stay for more that EUR 5,000 per night for the whole property. However, there are tourists for whom luxury is linked to an experience, like staying in a lodge in the Amazon, or a helicopter ride or court-side tickets to the Super Bowl. And Romanians are no exception to that,” said Pascu.

Romanian tourists tend to have two separate approaches to what it means to have a luxury holiday. One approach is the medium-high one, where location is key, and most such vacationers prefer five-star plus resorts in Turkey or even intercontinental destinations like the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Mexico and Mauritius. Prices are comparable even though one is in Europe and the others are 6,000 km away.

The second approach is the ultimate luxury holiday which includes private transfer to and from the airport, business or upper business class tickets, the best accommodation possible and Michelin-starred restaurants.

For those seeking to combine a perfect location with nature and panoramic views, activities and experiences as well as fine dining, Pascu recommends the Seychelles, the Maldives and the big metropolises of the world: New York, Tokyo, or Los Angeles, where you can have a true gastronomic and luxury holiday combined with shopping and state-of-the-art hotels.

The Romanian tourist gains a thirst for adventure

The profile of the Romanian holidaymaker is changing, step by step. Local travelers are becoming less conservative and want to experience new destinations, new resorts, and possibly new hotels every year.

“Domestic tourism has grown a lot thanks to the large-scale introduction of holiday vouchers. From my point of view, for this reason, the 2019 summer holiday season on the domestic tourism side may be the best in the last 15-20 years. Holiday vouchers have greatly stimulated the influx of tourists to Romanian destinations, especially at the seaside, followed by spa resorts and mountain resorts. For traditional holidays, over July-August, the occupancy rate is very high, with many Romanians making reservations months in advance,” said Traian Badulescu, tourism consultant.

North Africa – the new Greece

Romanians are now beginning to venture back to destinations in North Africa, which have become safe again, the political situation having calmed down, and tariffs are lower than in other traditional destinations. For this year, the major Romanian tour operators are organizing charter flights from several cities, such as Bucharest, Cluj Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Targu Mureș, Arad, Oradea, Suceava, Bacau, Baia Mare and Craiova.

Turning to tours, Romanians typically choose, depending on their budget, cultural circuits in European countries, the most popular being Greece, Italy, Germany, Austria, France, Spain and the United Kingdom, cultural tours in the Near East and North Africa – Israel, Jordan and Egypt – and, for distant and exotic destinations, the Far East, South America, and the US.

 

Photos: dreamstime.com

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