According to the Tourism Satellite Account, the direct contribution of tourism to GDP in 2017 was RON 23.9 billion, 2.8% of the total GDP, and the tourism sector directly supported 373 074 jobs.

In 2018, Romania received 11.7 million international arrivals at the border, an increase of 7.3% over 2017. International tourists totalled 2.8 million in 2018, the leading source markets being Germany (11.7% market share), Israel (10.0%), and Italy (8.6%), followed by France (6.1%) and the United States (5.9%). The United States market has shown the largest growth from 2017 to 2018, with a 5.3% increase in tourists.

The number of overnight stays by international visitors increased by 0.7% in 2018 compared to 2017, reaching 5.3 million nights. While domestic overnight stays in accommodation units recorded an increase of 6.9% for the same period, to reach 23.1 million nights in 2018.

Tourism lies under the responsibility of The Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment. The main tourism related fields of activity include:

  • Developing and implementing the national tourism strategy,

  • Promoting Romania as a tourist destination domestically and internationally,

  • Developing destinations and tourist products,

  • Developing tourist related infrastructure,

  • Issuing accommodation and tourism licences as well as controlling the quality of tourism services,

  • Representing Romania to international tourism organisations.

The Ministry collaborates with other ministries, central government bodies, local government and other public bodies. At national level, the Consultative Council for Tourism includes organisations from private sector and academic backgrounds as well as tourism associations representing different destinations in Romania.

The Inter-ministerial Committee for Tourism has an advisory role to facilitate the development of tourism. Its aims are to co-ordinate tourism policies and actions at the national level, monitor sector developments and set strategy. The Committee assembles 16 ministries and 3 institutions from a range of sectors including development, environment, business, education, economy, transport, labour, research, culture, and health.

At regional and local levels, tourist associations bring together interested parties to contribute to the development of tourism for their area. Additionally, 14 representatives from the ministry work with local partners to help implement the national tourism policy. Local administrations assist the ministry in implementing tourism policy. Their responsibilities also include maintaining inventories of tourism resources, developing proposals for annual development programmes, participation in the certification of pedestrian routes and ski slopes, improving the quality of products, and surveillance of tourist activity.

The 2018 National Tourism Development Strategy was developed with the support of the World Bank, and is built upon previous related documents, such as the National Tourism Development Master Plan for Romania 2007-26, which was developed in collaboration with the UN World Tourism Organization.

The vision of the National Tourism Development Strategy is for Romania to be a well-known premier, year-round tourism destination by 2030, focussed on unique cultural and natural heritage, and world-class customer service. The Strategy is based on four operational objectives:

  • Improve the connectivity and quality of tourist infrastructure,

  • Support the private sector innovation,

  • Enhance the quality of visitor experiences and services at destinations,

  • Strengthen tourism policy-making capacity, increase digitalisation and better align marketing mechanisms and campaigns.

Two key priorities are identified in the National Tourism Development Strategy:

  • Better capturing visitor spending at tourism sites which are insufficiently developed and difficult to access, and improve the consistency and quality of the visitor experience and service across destinations.

  • Attract higher-value tourists to the country through stronger tourism policies, improved market segmentation and greater visibility of the country in international markets.

Another policy document, the Master Plan for Tourism Investments, takes account of the two sectoral strategies; the National Strategy for Ecotourism Development and the Master Plan for the Development of Balneary Tourism.

The National Strategy for Ecotourism Development is planned for the period 2019-29, and it has the general objective of creating the conditions for ecotourism development in natural protected areas, by developing a network of certified eco-tourist destinations and by creating competitive eco-tourist products for national and international markets. Key areas of focus include the development of institutional and associative organisations, tourist infrastructure and land management, education and awareness raising, human resources development, and private sector and local development.

The Master Plan for the Development of Balneary Tourism, is based on the implementation of an innovative approach and of a public- private partnership, supporting the development of health tourism. It has the final aim of providing an innovative positioning regarding a new green balneary tourism product.

To stimulate business development, in 2018, the Government reduced the VAT rate for tourism services from 9% to 5%. The reduced rate applies to accommodation within the hotel sector, and sectors with a similar function, including land rentals for camping, restaurant and catering services, the use of sports facilities, and access to fairs, amusement parks and recreational parks.

In 2018, the Romanian government launched a travel voucher scheme as an incentive for employees, with the aim of encouraging domestic tourism and tackling seasonality. The travel vouchers, which come in the form of printed tickets or electronic cards, can be used in any Romanian destination for accommodation, transport, spas and wellness services, food and beverages, and entertainment.

Tourist packages purchased with travel vouchers must include at least one overnight stay in any affiliated accommodation unit certified by the ministry. The vouchers are valid for a period of one year from the date of issue, and can hold a maximum value of the equivalent of EUR 300 per employee. The travel voucher policy has been a success so far, contributing to increasing domestic tourism and the scheme is planned to continue into the future.

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