Romania’s quality tourism: a distant dream in a galaxy far, far away

Paul Barbu 29/05/2019 | 15:13

Romania’s quality tourism exists, but it’s almost nowhere to be found if you look at the number of foreign visitors to the country. Luckily, the country appeared on the tourism radar a few years ago when the big concert promoters created festivals like Electric Castle, Untold or Neversea.

Besides that, Romania is the country that gave the world Dracula (Thank you, Bram Stocker!), a brand that we still haven’t quite managed to exploit, the Danube Delta, which hides one of the last “Amazonian forests” in Europe, the Letea Forest, the Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea, although the Bulgarians attracted more investors then we did through various economic facilities. On that last part we still have a problem with the corruption of local authorities.

But the big advantage of the Romanian seaside, excluding the Mamaia resort, is that when you go there, you’ll automatically take a trip back in time, because most of our hotels still look like they’re from the ’70s.

Romania is doing so well in the quality tourism segment that for almost 14 years we didn’t have a tourism law. But that’s ok, because in the last 3-4 years, some of the big tour operators have managed to hit bankruptcy and leave some tens of thousands of tourists with no money and no holidays.

Romania’s quality tourism under the microscope

According to the Coalition for Romania’s Development (CDR), the tourism law has been under debate for over 14 years. Many European countries do not have a tourism law, and this would not be necessary in Romania if it wouldn’t have the potential to solve a number of serious problems faced by the industry and create a coherent vision and strategy for the next 20 years.

“The serious problems in tourism at this moment are related to: promoting Romania as a tourist destination, the labor force, education and professional training in the field; bureaucracy and simplification. The above mentioned law does not come up with a vision or strategy, and not even coherent punctual solutions. Another role of this law would be to centralize all the regulations in the field. Although the authorities had this objective, the law passed by the government does not even solve this problem,” the CDR representatives said.

The most urgent issue is promoting Romania as a tourist destination. The CDR’s Tourism Working Group has presented to both the government and the Parliament a critical position paper on the current state of the law regarding Destination Management Organizations (OMDs).

“Together wit 17 other professional and employers’ associations in Romania, it proposed a functional solution for public-private partnership, both at the local and the regional (county) level and, above all, the national level, taking into account existing models in the EU. The current form of the tourism law ignores these proposals and states a way of working in partnership only at a local, improper and non-functional level. We believe that there was no impact study for the current law, and the existing business dialogues did not take over the substantive proposals coming from the industry”, they said.

The greatest problem of Romanian tourism

If all of the above didn’t make you flinch, well here’s the kicker: the biggest problem of Romania’s tourism is apparently the fact that we don’t have a tax on tips that underpaid and unexperienced employees in hospitality get from tourists and clients. YES! That’s right! As if the money from this tax would solve all the problems in tourism.

Also, two years since the government implemented the holiday vouchers with a value of the minimum wage for every state employee, the private players in tourism want that these vouchers to only be used during the off-season period at the seaside.

Dragos Anastasiu, the vice president of the National Association of Tourism Agencies and a member of the CDR tourism group, said it was a problem that vouchers were mainly used in the summer season.

“Everyone gets stuck at the seaside in the summer and on weekends and then prices rise – that is the law of supply and demand. Another collateral effect is the inhibition of incoming tourists, because hotels have increased incomes for two months with tourists who pay more and so they no longer want to spend time attracting foreigners, “Anastasiu said.

He added that foreign tourists need a charter chain from April to October, but that they can’t find any rooms in July and August.

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