Romanians foreign tourists number boosts 15 percent

The most popular tourism offers are rural holidays and tours followed by events, the mountains, the Danube delta and the seaside.

We estimate a 25 percent increase for the next year of tourist’s number signing up for Danube cruises, said the president of the National Association of Tourism Agencies (ANAT), Lucia Morariu. Most of the foreign tourists in Romania are from Germany or from Northern states. French citizens come in third, followed by Italians, British citizens, Japanese and Americans.

The tourism agencies criticized the fiscal policy of the authorities, especially |the incertitude of the Value Added Tax regulations. Thus, the association’s vice president, Gheorghe Fodoreanu, stated that the agencies are already closing contracts for 2007 without really knowing what the VAT for tourism will be. It was set at nine percent for 2006, but they should announce what will happen in 2007 and even 2008-2009, said Fodoreanu, pointing out the importance of being earnest with the international partners.

Regarding the international excursions, which increased over the year, the| ANAT officials pointed out that an important role was assumed by the charter flights organized by the tourism agencies. Their representatives estimate that the number of charter flights boosted by as much as 50 percent. According to ANAT, the main partner of the tourism agencies was the local airliner Tarom, which sold tickets for agencies worth ten million euros. The agencies have set up 60 charter flights on 15 destinations in Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Italy, Jordan, the Maltese Republic and others. The charter flights in cooperation with Tarom have flown 5,000 tourists, said Morariu.

The number of Romanians who chose to spend their holidays abroad through tourism agencies increased by 37 percent this year, compared with the 15 percent hike of foreign tourists looking for a holiday in Romania.

The ANAT president said that the number of Romanians decreased by 20 percent on the seashore but hiked 15 percent?in the mountain resorts. The average occupancy rate on the seashore was 50 percent, said Morariu, estimating a 10-15 percent?decrease of the occupancy rate of the mountain resorts during winter holidays.

The Romanian seashore must offer similar services with those abroad, said Morariu, pointing out that there are no options for entertainment in the country, and even more Romanians are choosing to spend their holidays abroad.

The tourism agencies estimate that the occupancy rate on the seashore will decrease by ten percent next year, mainly due to the increasing number of Romanians who would rather spend their vacations abroad. However, the representatives of tourism agencies are optimistic in regard to the boarding houses and villa tourism, estimating an increase of 20% over the next year. The same hike is expected for the mountain resorts.

The promotional packages dedicated to special events recorded an increase of approximately 36 percent over this year as agencies cashed in 200 million euros. This tourism type includes business trips, team building, training programs and it is on an ascending trend since 2004, said a vice president of ANAT, Sorin Nicolescu.
The main destination for these events is the capital city and this is proof that the hotels in Bucharest are now operating on profit, according to Nicolescu. Although the Capital still lacks in infrastructure and services, the representatives of the tourism agencies consider that the number of visitors increase each year.

Most of those coming for business in Bucharest are returning as tourists with their families, said Nicolaescu, adding that during their business trips, agencies throw in a tour of the city or a trip on the Prahova Valley.

This type of tourism is expected to increase next year, when several major events as scheduled in Bucharest, such as the Francophone Convention or the Highway Convention.