Romania, an untapped tourist gem


Romania is brimming with tourist treasures still largely unknown to Western travelers. Yet, this country has undeniable assets to seduce tourists looking for authenticity and unspoiled nature. With its superb Orthodox monasteries, traditional Saxon villages and Black Sea resorts, Romania has all the right cards to become a flagship destination in Eastern Europe. The Romanian tourism sector is still in its infancy but has strong growth potential in the coming years.

An exceptional cultural heritage

Romania has an exceptionally rich cultural heritage. The monasteries of Bucovina with their unique exterior frescoes, the fortified churches of Transylvania and the medieval cities of Sighisoara and Sibiu attract more and more visitors every year. In 2018 alone, the number of foreign tourists increased by 7% compared to 2017. Romania is increasingly attractive for its authenticity, traditional architecture and the beauty of its mountainous landscapes.

Investments needed in hospitality

However, the country still has some catching up to do in terms of tourism infrastructure. According to forecasts, the Romanian hotel market is expected to grow by 6% per year until 2025. Many investment opportunities exist in this sector, especially in major cities like Bucharest, Brasov, Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca. The development of upscale hotel complexes and associated services (spas, gourmet restaurants, etc.) would meet growing demand. Currently, the hotel supply remains limited and focuses on budget establishments.

Betting on ecotourism

Romania boasts exceptionally well-preserved fauna and flora. 30% of its territory is classified as Natura 2000. Its mountain ranges like the Carpathians or Făgăraș Mountains are home to bears, wolves and lynx. Its numerous national parks are teeming with biodiversity unique in Europe. There is great potential to develop ecotourism and outdoor activities. More and more tourists are looking for close contact with nature. The creation of guesthouses and hiking trails could help showcase these natural areas.

The Black Sea, a seaside destination to reinvent

Black Sea resorts like Mamaia and Costinesti attract many Romanian tourists eager for swimming and relaxation each summer. However, these places need to thoroughly renovate their outdated infrastructure dating back to the communist era. Modernization efforts would showcase the potential of this coastline. In addition, developing sustainable tourism focused on nature and local gastronomy would breathe new life into the region.

Spa tourism, a promising niche

Romania has over 200 natural thermal springs, especially in the Carpathians. These mineral waters with therapeutic virtues attract many spa-goers every year. The construction of high-end wellness and thalassotherapy centers would help consolidate this niche. The country lacks 5-star spas that meet international standards.

Bucharest, a trendy city-break to develop

As a bustling cultural capital, Bucharest is attracting more and more urbanites looking for an exotic city-break. Its mix of Art Nouveau and communist architecture makes it a unique destination. Nicknamed the “Little Paris”, the city has a dynamic arts scene and lively nightlife. However, efforts are still needed in terms of transportation and air quality. Renovating the historic center and improving traffic flow could attract more visitors.

Simplifying visa procedures

Currently, Romania remains hampered by cumbersome visa procedures that limit the arrival of tourists. Citizens from countries like Russia, China, India and Turkey need to obtain a visa to stay in Romania, even for a short stay. Easing these administrative procedures would encourage the influx of new visitors from promising markets.

Training tourism professionals

The Romanian tourism sector suffers from a lack of professional training. Hospitality and catering schools are still underdeveloped. Training qualified multilingual staff is necessary to meet the expectations of foreign tourists. Efforts must be made to improve the training offer.

Targeting upscale clientele

Rather than relying on low-cost mass tourism, Romania would benefit from attracting a more upscale clientele looking for authentic experiences. Developing high-end accommodations (boutique hotels, eco-lodges, etc.) could increase tourism profitability. An international promotional campaign focused on luxury, wellness and nature would help attract this target group.

Preserving the environment

The tourism development of Romania must be done in an environmentally responsible way. Avoiding pharaonic projects that spoil landscapes, limiting vacation home construction, favoring eco-friendly materials: these are principles to follow to ensure sustainable tourism. National parks and nature reserves must also strengthen their reception capacity to avoid detrimental overcrowding.

Attracting foreign investors

Romania would benefit from facilitating the establishment of foreign tourism investors through tax incentives and tailored support. Streamlining administrative procedures and offering financial assistance would more easily attract major international hotel chains. The country still lacks large brands capable of structuring the offer.

Diversifying recreational offers

In addition to cultural and seaside tourism, Romania can capitalize on other types of tourist activities. Developing amusement parks, water parks, golf courses, casinos and winter sports facilities would complement the offer. Some spa towns would also deserve to be equipped with leisure and convention facilities.

Implementing a proactive tourism policy

To harness the country’s strong tourism potential, a proactive policy by public authorities is essential. Concerted sustainable tourism development plans need to be developed, with a substantial budget. Targeted international promotional campaigns are also necessary to spotlight Romania’s destination image.

Savvy investors would be smart to position themselves now in this highly promising market. Romania is a destination full of surprises that will attract visitors seeking authenticity, nature and tradition. The country’s tourism potential is undeniable, provided it focuses on sustainable tourism that respects the richness of Romanian heritage.


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