Tourism in Romania increased by 25% in the first seven months of 2022 compared to 2021. According to official statistics, the increase represents a significant evolution in tourism compared to the previous year. However, the number of foreign tourists who choose to visit Romania in the first eight months of 2022 has declined.
What is the cause of this decline, and what should Romania do to attract more tourists to the country?
Romania is a true gem in Europe, being among the few countries in the world that owns mountain sceneries, seasides and the Danube Delta, not to mention the delicate and fascinating combination of different architectural styles, traditions and cultures.
However, the tourism figures do not rise to the level of the beauty of these lands, which are so unique in Europe. What is the reason? It has to be mentioned statistics regarding each Romanian region. So, here is how the figures look for 2022 according to the most important areas:
The Romanian minister of entrepreneurship and tourism mentioned that strictly for the coasts, the first month of 2022 registered an increase of only 1%. Still, tourist activities in Romania increased by 25% at the beginning of 2022 compared to last year. Romania is witnessing a decrease in tourists arriving at the Black Sea coast, including the number of foreign tourists.
Romania has some of the most spectacular mountain routes in Europe, but somehow the Romanian state is not a good manager in persuading European tourists to visit them. The Romanian Ministry of Tourism was restructured, and its attribution is currently taken over by a larger ministry, namely the Economy Ministry. What else do you expect in a country without an independent Ministry of Tourism and no serious funds to promote Romania abroad?
The icon of mountain tourism, the beauty of nature, is choked in Romania by the lack of accessible trails and highways. This results in a yearly decline in visitors who choose to climb or enjoy the nation’s mountains.
For instance, in the summer of 2022, the number of foreign visitors to the Romanian alpine regions was three times lower than in 2019. Except for 2020 and 2021, when the pandemic impacted tourism, the numbers for May and June are significantly lower than those from previous years.
Between June and August of 2022, only 35,000 Romanian and foreign tourists visited the Danube Delta, one of Romania’s top tourist destinations, down from 44,000 visitors during the same time last year.
The Camargue Delta in France, which is almost 10 hectares in size, attracted one million visitors annually before the COVID 19 pandemic, despite the Danube Delta being the third largest delta in Europe and failing to draw even 100,000 people annually (if official statistics are taken into account).
Bucharest, Romania’s capital, lacks foreign tourists as well. However, one can see an improvement compared to the last years. Thanks to the capital’s festivals, tourist sights and events, Bucharest is becoming an increasingly attractive tourist location for foreigners.
A recent study by Visit Bucharest Today, the most accessed online guide in English for promoting Bucharest to foreign tourists, analyzed the searches performed by the users who accessed the platform from May to July 2022. The Old Center, the Palace of the Parliament and the Roman Athenaeum are among the most sought-after places in Bucharest.
Therefore, the 25% increase is not impressive. Compared to 2019, the best year for Romanian tourism, 2022 was nowhere near the level of expectations. Indeed, several external factors contributed to this decrease. Still, it should be mentioned that the lack of funding for promotion projects and ignorance of Romania’s most prestigious monuments, buildings and regions led to the decline of such a promising segment of the entire economy.
Indeed, recently, Bucharest Mayor, Nicusor Dan, approved some funds to promote the Capital. An Association is supposed to be responsible for designing a website in English to present Bucharest’s attractions to the world. Would this be enough? It is a start, but without a proper strategy, any platform would fail to attract the desired number of foreign tourists.
Romania doesn’t invest in promoting tourism abroad, or it doesn’t invest enough. The few private initiatives do not compensate for the lack of interest of the ministers who come and go without paying attention to one of the golden opportunities Romania has to get a quick return on investment: tourism.