The Romanian seaside has high perspectives this year as well after the visitors’ record last year, but these perspectives are mainly based on Romanian tourists, while the number of foreign tourists is still way below the potential. We need the states’ help on promoting Romanian travel destinations abroad, the National Association of Travel Agencies in Romania (ANAT) says.
In a press conference in Constanta on Tuesday, ANAT president Alin Burcea stated that the budget allotted by the Tourism ministry so far to promote Romania was scarce. “EUR 2 M was allotted only for the national tourism promotion at the international fairs. Around EUR 14 M are needed for this. For now, this year EUR 6 M has been allotted. The Romanian seaside is a good product, but we need promotion,” said Burcea.
The ANAT president pointed out that the tourist packages for the seaside are 30-40 pc sold since last autumn until now on early booking concept, with 10 pc sold only in November, during the tourism fair in Bucharest. “Most of the hotels will have stop sales in July-August,” Burcea stated.
Burcea revealed that the travel agencies association has been lobbying to lure foreign visitors to Romania including through meetings with foreign embassies accredited in Bucharest. “We had very good meetings at the Russia’s, Portugal’s and Spain’s embassies,” he said.
Burcea added that there were several legislative actions that helped the domestic tourism, exemplifying the 9 per cent VAT for the public food and all-inclusive sector and for accommodation and the specific tax regulatory document, initiated by the current Tourism minister Mircea Dobre, which aims at curbing tax evasion in the tourism field.
The ANAT president also hailed the Gov’t intention to give holiday vouchers for the employees working in the public sector, as well as the upcoming tourism law and tourism investment master plan.
However, Burcea warned that one of the problems that the tourism investors are facing is the waiter service’s staff shortage, for most of the Romanians working in this field are leaving to work abroad and the new generations trained in the public food vocational schools are not enough. “We asked the manager of such school in Bucharest to provide us with some graduates. She answered: <The class graduating this year has been taken long ago>,” Burcea recounted.
He said that a solution is to bring foreigners to take the vacant seats, but the hotel managers are blocked by the national Immigration Office’s red tape procedures, as a visa for Romania is hard to get. And granting visas is also an issue when it comes to bringing tourists from East, Arabs or Chinese. “Last year, no Chinese tourist has come to Romania”, Burcea revealed.
Corina Martin: Israeli visitors interested in circus and aquarium shows, UK’s high interest in bachelors’ parties in Mamaia
Corina Martin, vice-president of the Romanian Riviera Danube Delta Tourism Board, president of the Romanians Federation of Tourism Promotion Associations, is more optimistic about foreign tourists coming this year on the Romanian seaside, saying that that 10,000-15,000 are expected on the Romanian Black Sea coast this summer, only for touristic purposes.
She also said that the lack of direct charters to Constanta from abroad has affected the foreigners’ visits to the seaside, but announced that 8,000 Israeli tourists would come this summer through the Tel-Aviv Constanta charter project, that started four years ago. “This summer there are four flights every week from Tel Aviv to Constanta, after a long promotion in the Israeli media. Thus, the expectations are for 8,000 Israeli tourists to the Romanian sea shore, with returns for the tour operators mainly from Mamaia mounting to USD 8 M only from accommodation and food and with USD 2 M expected incomes from trips, guided tours, tourist attractions. Israeli tourists voiced a high interest for the circus show and for aquarium,” said Martin.
She added that by far the greatest accomplishment of the the Riviera Danube Delta association is that they managed to bring four new flights linking western Europe to Constanta after many years: the flights from Rome (for the first time), Milan (for the second year), Paris (after 27 years) and Brussels.
There is also a Wizz Air flight from London to Constanta started two years ago with one flight a week and there are currently two flights per week. “The British tourists began to replace the bachelors’ parties from Ibiza for the ones in Mamaia resort”, Corina Martin stated, adding there have been about 1,500 tourists coming from UK so far for these bachelors’ parties, for clubbing, and they usually prefer accommodation in 4 and 5-star hotels.
According to her, there will be a Beirut-Constanta charter in force as of next year, following Lebanese hotel managers’ requests. Last year, there were 600 Lebanese tourists coming to Constanta, landing in Varna.
The most important short-term project is to have a Stuttgart-Constanta flight and Helsinki-Constanta flight as of 2018, in an attempt to regain the German and Scandinavian markets.
Adrian Voican: Old new hotels on the seaside
In his turn, Adrian Voican, the manager of Bibi Touring, the only tour operator specialized on holiday packages in Romania and ANAT first vice-president and author of the first encyclopaedia of the Romanian tourism in English, „The Big Book of Romanian Travel”, told the press conference in Constanta that there are many novelties on the Romanian seaside this year.
He reviewed among them the Blue Flag beaches in the northern part of the seaside, at Vega and Arena Regia, the Phoenicia five-star hotel in Mamaia owned by the Lebanese businessman Mohammad Murad, president of the Romanian Tourism Owners Federation, a project to be commissioned in June, a new all-inclusive concept at Ambasador in Mamaia, a new revamped Sulina Hotel in Mamaia, which has gradually climbed from two-star ranking to the four-star one in just 2 or 3 years.
Voican said that a new building is under way at Splendid Hotel based on the adult-only concept.
In Jupiter, more and more hotels of three-stars have started to go up to four stars, mostly intended for families with children.
In Cap Aurora, there are two former hotels, the Onyx-Safir complex, which are being revamped under the Mera Resort brand, to be released most probably in mid-July. The Mera resort Venus has also commissioned the villas in the complex last year. Mera Resort will also release this year the Mera Brise hotel in Mangalia, completely revamped. In Mangalia, there is also the former President hotel restored as new Belvedere. In Neptun worth to mention is 2D Hotel.
Adrian Voican stated that the three major projects that prompted more investments on the Black Sea coast is the highway coming from Bucharest, the extended beaches and the internal air flights, from Oradea, Cluj, Timisoara or Iasi to Constanta. In his view, there is still need for promotion of this concept, as Romanians are not very well accustomed yet to fly from their city to the seaside.
According to Voican, for this summer season, 52% of sales are for Mamaia resort, while Venus resort ranks second amid the rise from three-star packages to the four-star ones, particularly on the all-inclusive segment. Currently there are 23 hotels on the seaside offering all-inclusive services. Voican argues that Romania is not quite an all-inclusive destination, but however there is a 20-25 per cent rise margin.