Romania, the Carpathian garden, is still that little unknown country north of Danube, despite the PR efforts by the official Romania Tourism board, that hoped to attract more foreign visitors to the country by upgrading its visual identity online. But perhaps, before the flack they got for using a stock image for the logo, they did something right. According to the Research and Markets: Romania Tourism Report Q1 2011, after a considerable fall in the number of foreign visitor arrivals in 2009 (down an annual 14%), the most recent data for January-August 2010 shows an improving trend.
However “improving” is not enough. It is sad that Romania cannot find a way to show, and market, its beauty internationally the way Croatia does, for example: a powerful Facebook community, a strong online presence, and a flawless website that tells the story of a country that, like Romania, has a rich history, with traditions and culture unique to their people, a country proud of its legacy, and a country that knows how to fight, with the right weapons, for its place in Europe. Romania has as many wonders, and as many reasons to be proud…
A positive forecast for foreign visits to Romania is to be expected, mainly due to the world-wide recovering economy. If in 2010 foreign tourism entered “recovery mode” this had little to do with the Romanian Tourism board: the country is beautiful by default, as you see. Tourist accommodation, amenities and service in Romania are still on the “poor” side, yet the hotels, restaurants and agents charge premium prices, comparable to those in Western European countries, where the value is superior.
And it’s not that Romania lacks the resources – it lacks the business intelligence. While there are a number of world-class resorts in the country, where the value for money proposition stands, there are still too many venues that need improvement. Yes, the emphasis is on need, because Romania has a lot to offer in terms of nature and wildlife, architecture, culture and, yes, entertainment.
This is a deeply religious country, like all its Eastern European neighbors: you’ll find many religious sites everywhere you go, and you’ll get to admire a variety of Orthodox architecture, and art. And sure, there are the Carpathians, that dare you to go on a hike, to explore wildlife where you can still meet face to face with a brown bear, or a pack of wolves. Even its cities rival many European gems. Bucharest (in the image below), is not as beautiful as Prague, but it was once called the “small Paris of the East” and you’ll still find traces of its glorious past at, and around Piata Unirii, Universitatii and Piata Romana.
And there are still people in Romania who keep those ancestral traditions intact, preserving popular costumes from generation to generation – but you cannot meet them if you don’t know where to look for them, and many travel agencies in Romania don’t offer the authentic experience, but send you to popular tourist traps instead. This is one of those things Romanian travel agents still need to learn, and refine their strategies, to enrich the tourist market in the country with authentic values.
All images in this editorial were offered exclusively to Argophilia by award-winning Romanian photographer, Eugen Mihai.