Tourism Minister Mircea-Titus Dobre has launched a debate, later proved as imaginary, on changing the country brand from Elena Udrea’s ‘leaf’ to ‘sheep’. Later on, the same minister claimed it is “a false topic, as the country brand cannot be changed until 2020. It’s a European funded project.”
The issue was launched during the Consultative Council last week, when the minister announced the businessmen during a meeting he intends to change Romania’s tourism brand, and the ‘leaf’ promoted by former minister Elena Udrea could be replaced by ‘sheep’, in order to build a new image around the national ballad ‘Miorita’.
Minister Dobre said he does not understand why the proposal is seen as hilarious, as other countries use such symbols. “France has the Gaelic cock, the Netherlands has the cow and Spain has the bull. Can’t I look forward to a symbol such as Miorita?”
Tourism operators were stunned and claim there are more important issues to discuss than the country brand. ‘Miorita’ is after all a sad and pessimistic legend, whereas the sheep might be seen as a submissive and stupid animal. They called the initiative as ‘stupid’.
Taking the topic seriously, Agriculture Minister Petre Daea said that making the sheep as country brand is desirable. He said “the sheep is like a living statue.”
“The sheep is like a live statue. The arguments lie deep into the analysis. Look anywhere throughout the country, this beautiful animal is found on the green pastures of Romania. Everybody has leaves, but sheep like the ones in Romania, they don’t. Near a sheep you can find a leaf, but near a leaf you can’t find a sheep,” Minister Daea said on Tuesday.
In 2010, the then Tourism Minister Elena Udrea chose the association with THR-Asesores en Turismo, Hoteleria y Recreacion SA – Taylor Nelson Sofres to draw the tourism country brand. The media reported that, besides the money allotted from the state budget to promote Romania, Elena Udrea had at her disposal EUR 75 million as grant to promote Romania’s brand through the Regional Operational Programme, Axa 5. More EUR 190,000 was spent for the show launching the ‘leaf’ at the World Exhibition in Shanghai, China, in 2010. Besides, the former Tourism Minister spent EUR 2.5 million to promote the ‘leaf’ during the boxing Bute Gala in Bucharest and during several bouts of Lucian Bute abroad.
PM Grindeanu: Until 2020 the country brand will be the leaf
Asked by reporters if the sheep is “a living statue” as Minister Daea said, PM Grindeanu said “the sheep cannot be Romania’s brand until 2020 (…) as the leaf was made on European funds. The choice several years ago is debatable. I’ve discussed several times with Minister Dobre to find out what is all about. I haven’t seen Minister Daea’s statement, he is with agriculture. Important is the clarification brought by Minister Dobre,” the Prime Minister said.
The Premier said that Minister Dobre wanted, during the Consultative Council, to discuss issues related to promoting well known issues such as Dracula and Miorita and not about changing the country brand (the leaf). “The talks were not about changing the leaf, but to promote Romania on well known things such as Dracula and Miorita. These were far away from the idea of changing the country brand – the leaf,” Grindeanu said.