Tourism in the economy

Romania welcomed 10.2 million international arrivals in 2016, an increase of 9.6% on 2015. Of these, 2.5 million stayed overnight in commercial accommodation (up 10.6% on 2015). Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom were the main source markets in 2016, together accounting for 32.4% of overnight international visitors. Romanian’s made nearly 47 million domestic trips in 2016, of which 15 million were overnight (down 7.3%), generating nearly 20 million nights in hotels and similar establishments (up 8.2%). Despite a decrease of 3.9% in 2016 to RON 14.5 billion, domestic travel receipts have demonstrated strong growth in recent years, more than doubling from RON 6.9 billion in 2010.

In 2014, tourism directly contributed RON 12.5 billion (up 7.6% on 2013) or 2% of GDP.

Tourism governance and funding

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture (the “Ministry”) performs various functions, including:

  • Policies and strategies for tourism promotion and marketing aimed at international and domestic markets, including promotion of the national brand,

  • Policies and strategies for the development of destinations and products, including investment programmes and collaboration with public and private bodies,

  • Policies and strategies to increase the competitiveness of destinations, promoting natural and cultural assets and working with businesses to improve service quality,

  • Authorisation and control of the activities of the tourism industry,

  • Evaluation and selection of applications for EU programmes.

At a national level the private sector is organised into associations based on different sub-sectors of tourism (rural tourism, spa tourism, business tourism, ecotourism) or on different professions (tour operators and travel agents, hotels, bed and breakfast, tour guides, cooks and confectioners). There is also a Federation of Tourism Patrons.

An Inter-Ministerial Committee of Tourism, which brings together several ministries, was established to help the integration and sustainable development of tourism, with a focus on addressing environmental protection, economic measures, and the protection of cultural and natural heritage.

The Consultative Council for Tourism brings together national representatives from the public and private sectors and NGOs to discuss aspects of tourism policy.

Tourism related departments can be established within local authorities but are not subordinate to the Ministry or other central bodies. Rather, the relationship is based on co‐operation. However, the Ministry is responsible for legal acts and regulations relating to tourism that need to be implemented locally.

Local tourism associations at a regional, county or municipal level bring together the public and private sectors, and NGOs.

The Ministry of Tourism has a budget of RON 80 million, from which RON 25 million is utilised for investment in tourism infrastructure.

Romania: Organisational chart of tourism bodies

Source: OECD, adapted from the Ministry of Tourism, 2018.

Tourism policies and programmes

Tourism faces many challenges in Romania. These include the development of the tourism infrastructure and the need to improve promotion, together with a shortage of financial resources, a lack of collective vision and a passive attitude by the travel trade. Many issues are structural, including creating the legal framework for running tourist activities, frequent changes in tax policies, inadequate stakeholder collaboration, and lack of professional managers for effective destination management.

The main policy document is the National Tourism Development Master Plan 2007-2026, developed in collaboration with the UN World Tourism Organization. This is supported by sectoral strategies, including the National Ecotourism Strategy (elaborated in 2009), the National Strategy for Spa Tourism (elaborated in 2009), and the Marketing Strategy and Operational Plan for Romania (2011-2015).

The strategic direction is towards the sustainable development of tourism and to a higher value added model, powered by knowledge, innovation, improvement in living standards and harmony with the natural environment. The short and mid-term strategic objectives are to:

  • Adopt the Tourism Law in 2017,

  • Adopt the Master Plan for investments in tourism,

  • Implement the law on holiday vouchers for public employees,

  • Develop an integrated tourism strategy in order to adjust to global trends in the tourism sector,

  • Provide high quality human resources, which will lead to increased quality of tourism services and raise the competitiveness of Romanian tourism,

  • Adopt the law for Destination Management Organisations,

  • Enhance the position of Romania as a tourism destination within European markets,

  • Attract new segments and markets by respecting the principles of sustainability and ethics in tourism.

There have been various achievements in the process of developing more sustainable tourism. A specific area of focus has been in the field of ecotourism, with activities including: the National Ecotourism Strategy; recognition of ecotourism destinations based on specific criteria; the certification of 50 eco-products, with a further 16 undergoing certification; and the development of walking routes and trails. Other achievements include training programmes for people working in tourism.

Romania has been particularly active as a partner in international collaborative programmes. Examples include:

  • Coordination with the Ministry of Tourism of Bulgaria, in the promotion of culture, tourism and interpersonal contacts within the EU Strategy for the Danube Region,

  • Collaboration between Ministries of Tourism and of Culture within the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes, established by the Council of Europe,

  • Collaboration with the Ministry of Environment within the Carpathian Convention, which aims to encourage co-operation for the protection and sustainable development of the Carpathians, to improve quality of life and preserve natural and cultural values.

A particularly important initiative for 2017 is the adoption of the law regarding the development and implementation of a three-tiered Destination Management Organisation (DMO) structure (national, regional and local). The law will create a partnership between the public and private sectors and NGOs and raise awareness of their roles in promoting the tourism destination as a whole (Box 1.3).

Statistical profile

Table 1. Romania: Domestic, inbound and outbound tourism

Table 2. Romania: Enterprises and employment in tourism

Table 3. Romania: Internal tourism consumption
Million RON