Tourism is an important sector of the economy of Romania. In 2019, tourism directly contributed RON 31.6 billion to Romania’s economy, equating to 3.0% of total GDP. The sector directly supported 412 649 jobs, representing 6.3 % of total employment in Romania. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic saw tourism employment fall to 393 427 jobs in 2020, or 6.1% of the workforce.

International arrivals at the border totalled 5.0 million in 2020, a decrease of 61% when compared to 2019. International nights in registered accommodation declined by 81.1% to 1.0 million in 2020. An initial recovery in 2021 saw international nights return to 1.8 million, an increase of 83.7% compared to 2020. However, this remained 65.4% below the 2019 level. Romania’s main source markets in 2020 were Germany, Italy, and France based on arrivals in accommodation units.

In 2021, domestic tourism remained a driver of recovery, totalling 19 million nights and 91.2% of total nights in accommodation establishments. After falling 44.4% in 2020, domestic tourists (in all accommodation types) recorded 8.5 million tourists in 2021, 20.2% below pre-pandemic levels.

The Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Tourism has responsibility for tourism in Romania. The main tourism-related fields of activity include:

  • Developing and implementing national and sectoral tourism strategies.

  • Promoting Romania as a tourist destination domestically and internationally.

  • Developing destinations and tourist products.

  • Developing tourism-related infrastructure.

  • Authorising and controlling tourism services.

  • Representing Romania in international tourism organisations.

The Consultative Council for Tourism includes representatives of the central and local administration, the private sector, academia, associations for different tourism sectors or destinations in Romania, and cultural institutions of national interest. In 2022, Romania established the National Tourist Brand Council, which includes representatives of the public and private sectors, to co-ordinate tourism promotion activities.

The local administrations collaborate with the ministry in implementing tourism policy. At the local level, tourism associations bring together interested parties to contribute to developing tourism in their area. Additionally, 14 territorial representatives of the ministry work with local partners to help implement the national tourism policy.

There are three main budget lines related to tourism: the Programme for Tourist Products Development, the Programme for Tourist Marketing and Promotion and transfers from the central budget to the local budget for tourism investments (part of the Programme for Tourist Products Development). Additional funds may be allocated to tourism, as was the case with the state aid scheme for the enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The total tourism budget increased over the period 2020-22, from RON 11.6 million to RON 117.5 million.

To support tourism enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Romania implemented a state aid scheme for accommodation and food services businesses, travel agencies, travel guides and event organisers. The state aid was given in the form of grants of 20% of the turnover difference resulting from the eligible activities in 2019 compared to 2020, limited to RON 4 million (EUR 800 000) at the enterprise level. Romania also extended the validity of travel vouchers issued before or during the pandemic. Both public and private sector employees can benefit from the travel vouchers.

Romania’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) includes a chapter related to Tourism and Culture. The tourism chapter refers to developing Destination Management Organisations, creating and promoting 12 cultural-touristic routes, creating and upgrading nine museums and memorials, and developing cycling tourism.

The 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 UNWTO.

There are also two sectoral strategies:

  • The National Strategy for Ecotourism Development 2019-29, which has the general objective of creating the conditions for ecotourism development in natural protected areas. It aims to develop a network of certified ecotourism destinations and create competitive ecotourism products for both national and international markets. Based on the National Strategy for Ecotourism Development, the Ministry, together with other institutions and organisations from Romania, such as the Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests, the National Institute for Research and Development in Tourism and the Ecotourism Association of Romania, developed a system for evaluating ecotourism destinations in Romania. The system is based on the Global Criteria for Sustainable Tourism (GSTC) and the European Ecotourism Standard (EETLS). So far, five tourism destinations have received this recognition, and two others are under evaluation.

  • The Strategy for the Development of Spa Tourism - 2019. The strategy is based on implementing an innovative approach combining public-private partnerships to support the development of a wide variety of health tourism-related products. It aims to provide a new and innovative green and spa tourism product.

The Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Tourism runs a programme for financial support to local public administration authorities to finance investment projects in tourism infrastructure. The programme is carried out based on the Master Plan for Tourism Investments.

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