Romania Lures Russians to Cut-Price Resorts

Romania's tourist board is hoping to triple the number of Russian tourists by offering bargain wellness holidays at the seaside for as little as 10 euro a night.
Romania is to better promote its health and wellness services in order to attract new tourists | Photo: BIRN

Romania’s tourism authority is to launch a promotion campaign on the Russian market with holiday packages focused on health and wellness, in a move to diversify tourism products that focus on mountain and seaside resorts.

More tourists from Israel and China are also expected following recent moves to ease their access.

“‘Seaside for Russians’ will offer hotels places on the Black Sea at prices starting from only 10 euro a night. The focus will be on anti-ageing treatments and complex aesthetic treatments, services very popular among Russian tourists,” Anca Pavel-Nedea, president of Romanian Authority for Tourism, ANT, said.

“We hope to attract some 100,000 Russian tourists this year this way, as many of them have lost interest in holidays in Turkey and Egypt following terrorist attacks and the unstable situation there,” Pavel-Nedea added. Last year, only around 30,000 Russian tourists visited Romania.

Romania is also planning to make wellness and cosmetic holidays more popular among Israeli tourists.

Media reports say the number of weekly charter flights from Israel to Romania will grow from eight to at least 11, with new destinations at the seaside and in Oradea, in western Romania.

Starting next week Romania is also easing visa rules for Chinese tourists, which will help them get visas in a week at most. 

Chinese tourists are extremely few in number in Romania as the long waiting time for visas has beena major obstacle.

Despite the new efforts to promote tourism, much remains to be done in terms of infrastructure and better promotion, says Remus Visan, member of a Bucharest-based tourist agency.

Visan cites the poor roads and lack of good tour guides and information for tourists as factors hindering the development of the industry. “Attempts to promote the country internationally have yet to make much impact,” he warned.

Other tour operators are more optimistic, at least for the future.

“The number of foreign tourists to Romania could double in the next two or three years if the country focuses on providing niche services, such as wellness, as well as on promoting the mountains and rural life,” Corina Marin, from a tourism association, said.

While the authorities explore new ways to attract foreign visitors, the number of tourists still pales in comparison to those visiting its smaller, more tourist-savvy neighbours.

According to official data for last year, some 2 million foreign tourists visited Romania in 2015, based on incoming data received from Romanian tourist accommodation units.

More than 5 million people visited Bulgaria and a stupendous 9 million or so went to Hungary – which is far smaller than Romania and arguably has far fewer attractions.