Oxford Business GroupFrom: Oxford Business Group
To: Matei Paun
Sent: Monday, March 19, 2007 5:34 PM

Romania: Tourism to Take a Step Up
19 March 2007

Romania's already strong tourism sector is looking to meet the potential it
and others see for it, with massive new investments in the pipeline and new
plans for how to manage and promote the sector.

Building on a solid base of cultural attractions and modern facilities,
Romania is expected to be the fastest-growing tourism industry in Europe for
the next 10 years, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Tourism in Romania is a major contributor to the economy, contributing 4.8%
of GDP in 2006, with revenue from the industry estimated at $8bn last year.
Figures released in early March showed that just over 6.2m foreign tourists
flocked to Romania in 2006, a 7.1% improvement over the previous year, with
520,000 arrivals in December alone.

However, despite predictions the sector will continue to expand by 7.4%
annually for the next ten years, there are fears the industry's very success
could be its undoing. Unrestricted development in the Danube Delta and some
of the country's picturesque mountain regions, combined with insufficient
services and facilities, threaten to undermine Romania's appeal, according
to some observers.

Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu said on March 1 that it was
time the tourism industry put its house in order and start dealing with
realities rather than abstracts.

I am tired of strategies and plans, I want concrete projects with deadlines
and measures, Tariceanu said during a meeting with industry leaders. This is
how you should work. You will not be friends with me if you work with
strategies. I want to see some concrete results.

The prime minister warned that high prices and unregulated construction work
were threatening the appeal of the Danube Delta, one of Romanian's most
popular destinations for both domestic and foreign tourists.

Go to the Delta Danube and see the catastrophe, he said. In this way, the
Delta will be transformed into the Tower of Babel. Tourist destinations will
look like real monsters.

Romania also risks losing its own holidaymakers to Greece or Turkey unless
specific measures for the improvement of services are taken, said Tariceanu.

The prime minister's concerns were borne out by official figures showing
that 692,000 Romanians went overseas in December, one of the country's peak
holiday seasons, a 31% increase on the same month in 2005.

While low cost airlines are already travelling to Bucharest, it appears
Romanians, whose incomes are slowly rising, are using them to get out -
rather than foreigners hopping aboard to visit the country.

Perhaps ironically, given Tariceanu's criticism of plans and strategies, the
March 1 meeting with industry representatives was called to announce that
the government would draft a new master plan for developing Romanian tourism
in conjunction with operators and the World Tourism Organisation.

The government has already committed $430m to develop tourism between 2005
and the end of this year, with much of the funding being directed toward the
improvement and construction of nature trails, recreational ports and
holiday spas.

National Tourism Authority (ANT) President Mihaela Barbuletiu believes the
country should be working to attract visitors to the countryside, saying
activities like horseback riding and local festivals can be popular for

Another who feels Romania needs to act quickly to preserve its natural
appeal is Count Tibor Kalnoky, the owner of an estate of traditional 19th
century guesthouses in the mountainous area of Transylvania. According to
Kalnoky, unrestricted development is not in keeping with the rural feel of
the region and is harming the aesthetics of the countryside. The real
potential is in the natural assets of the country, said Kalnoky.

For the rest of the world, mass resorts are over. The same thing happened in
the 1960s and 1970s in the West and now these buildings are being destroyed,
he added.

Romania is already well equipped to deal with a rising tide of tourists,
having more than 4000 hotels, pensions and guest houses, and more coming
opening all the time.

However, in the rush to capitalise on the tourist boom, Romania must be
careful not to destroy the natural attractions of its seaside, mountains and
traditions that are the country's main draw cards.

"Let me know, that at least, she will try
Then she'll be a true love of mine"

Sageata Albastra e cea mai mare tzeapa a transportului public! 
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