Sun, sea and mountains, yet Romania fails to reach its tourism potential

biserica de gheata balea lac
Slujba la Biserica de Gheata de la Balea Lac, vineri, 26 ianuarie 2018. Inquam Photos / Ovidiu Matiu

Romania offers tourists sun, sea, snow (like in the rest of Europe, there’s less of it this winter) and mountains. However, it still fails to harness its potential, hampered by poor infrastructure and a lack of investment.

Figures released Monday in Bucharest show that tourism is increasing in Romania, but the industry contributes less to the economy than other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

In 2019, a total of 13.2 million people visited Romania for tourism, 3.6% more than in 2018, the National Statistics Institute reported Monday.

Most travelers and tourists, about 79.9%, were Romanian, while 20.1%  came from abroad. The majority of those, about three-fourths, come from other European countries.

Most foreign tourists were German, almost 300,000, while 234,000 came from Israel. Some 222,000 were Italians and about 154,000 came from France, the same number as from Hungary. A total of 161,000 came from the United States.

However, the World Travel & Tourism Council says tourism and travel only contributes 5.3% to Romania’s gross domestic product and only 6.2% of the workforce is employed in the travel and tourism sector.

In comparison, tourism accounts for 7.8% of the national output in the Czech Republic and 9.2 % of the workforce work in the industry.

In neighboring Hungary, tourism makes up 8.5% of the national output. Estonia has the highest figure in the region, with the industry contributing an impressive 15.2% to the GDP.

The World Travel &Tourism Council said that European countries face a number of challenges in attracting tourists. Romania has poor infrastructure and some of its cultural sites are in a state of poor upkeep, which discourages visitors.

Other tourist destinations are overcrowded and overvisited, an inconvenience and irritation for local residents which in turn is detrimental to tourism.


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