We have a country unique in its attractions, beauty and diversity, but we do not promote it

Corina Martin, Secretary General of the Federation of Hospitality Industry Employers in Romania (FPIOR) and Honorary Consul of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Romania, to name just a few of the positions held by this outstanding specialist in the tourism and hospitality industry, has graciously honoured us with an invitation to grant us an interview on how this important economic branch has become the Cinderella of the Romanian economy, instead of being where it deserves to be, at the top of successful economic branches. We discussed local tourism, foreign tourists, the promotion that should be provided by the Romanian Government but is completely missing, the attractions, diversity and uniqueness of our tourist destinations, tourism in Romanian cities, and the trends in Romanian tourism this year.


It seems that 2023 was a slightly better year for Romanian tourism. The net utilization rate of tourist accommodation in 2023 increasing by 1.3% compared to 2022. What’s happening in Romanian tourism in the last 2023-2024? How would you characterize the evolution of business in this sector?

Indeed, 2023 was a slightly better year for Romanian tourism, as tour operators consolidated the recovery of their businesses after the dramatic pandemic period, where tourism and aviation were the hard-hit industries, by effectively shutting down.

The staffing crisis, accentuated by the pandemic – when many employees reoriented themselves to other areas, continued to pose problems – but, overall, the pace of bookings, occupancy in locations, diversification and upgrading of services in hotels and restaurants stabilized and the attitude to come forward with the presentation and promotion of our locations, but especially of Destinations, began to grow, timidly but surely.

Romanians and Romanian businesses are still marked by a degree of “embarrassment” and hesitation in promoting and presenting ourselves to the world – that is why we are still weak in promoting tourism on foreign markets. This process of attitudinal transformation is in full evolution and, if we have a good management of Destination Romania, we can have even better results in 2023 and in the following years.

Why are there still so few foreign tourists in Romania? Only 15% of the total number of tourists registered in 2023 were from abroad.

Romania has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to promoting foreign tourism, because of the totally inadequate strategy we have been pursuing in all the years since the Revolution – years in which we lost all the charters with German, British, French, Nordic, etc. tourists that we had before the Revolution, and this could only happen because tourism was no longer considered a priority economic area except on paper.

34 years after the Revolution, Romania still does NOT have a real Strategy adopted for the development and promotion of tourism – to be taken on board by any political party in government and to generate continuity in the stable and sustainable growth in the development of the hospitality industry and in the promotion of Romanian destinations.

The absence of any strategy has brought with it tiny budgets for promotion and communication – which places Romania at the bottom of the list of European countries that compete with us as destinations.

With budgets of 1.5 million euros for external promotion, you cannot compare with countries that spend 25 – 40 – 70 million euros annually on communication and promotion campaigns.

Therefore, the number of foreign tourists visiting Romania is immeasurably lower than the potential and attractiveness of our Romanian destinations. We have a country unique in its attractions, beauty and diversity, but we do not promote it.

It seems that the top 3 foreign tourists are Germans, Italians and Israelis. Why can’t we attract tourists from other parts of the world? Let’s say from the former Soviet republics, many of which also have the financial resources to send their citizens to us…

For the first time this year, Romania will participate in the Kazakhstan Tourism Fair, following a project I recently submitted as a member of the Tourism Advisory Council and Honorary Consul of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Romania.

It is true that Romania has focused more on the former tourist markets that we had in pre-revolutionary times, they are traditionally closer markets.

But I have great confidence in the potential to attract tourists from the Asian basin and the former Soviet republics – although we neglected these regions of the world for so many years, in addition to many other possible markets for tourists with large holiday budgets and a real desire to discover new destinations.

And here too – we lack strategy and focus on clear and big goals that will bring us visibility and a much better image among the world’s destinations to visit. At the moment, we do not count in the top 10 destinations of the world, although, I say it again, we have a great natural diversity to visit – mountains, sea, Delta, parks and nature reserves, history, culture, traditions and hospitality! But we also have uniqueness – and that could so easily set us apart!

The Romanian coast, with all its shortcomings, remained the most visited place in Romania in 2023. Why do you think this happened?

The Romanian seaside accounts for 40% of all accommodation in Romania. Although affected by seasonality and the relatively short duration of the summer season, the seaside remains the preferred destination for Romanians during their summer holidays.

The balance between the number of Romanian tourists who choose a foreign holiday destination and the number of those who choose Romania – Litoral is still 1-3, in favour of Romanian destinations, and Romania’s Litoral contributes a lot to this good percentage. In summer, we run to the sea, necessarily, and we also go separately, to the big festivals and events – which still attract a lot of tourists and visitors – Romanian, but also foreign! (NEVERSEA, SUNWAVES, BEACH, PLEASE, etc).

Tourism in Romania’s cities is on an upward trend. Bucharest, Constanta, Brasov, Cluj and Iasi are starting to attract more and more tourists, a significant number of them foreigners. Is the volume and quality of road infrastructure starting to increase? Are investments made with European money in Romania’s cities showing? Are mayors starting to pay more attention to this economic potential? What do you think is the explanation?

In the pandemic and immediately after the pandemic, many Europeans started to travel individually, looking for new, unique destinations with nature and national parks, attractive places to visit – even further away from the usual crowds of the big destinations, much more sought after and accessed.

This is how they discovered, on their own and not on charters, Romania and its destinations, so attractive and so attractive, but less sought after. But this has brought us unexpected, but sincere and credible publicity.

In the meantime, however, many Romanian cities have understood, through their administrators and mayors, to update and modernise their infrastructure, organise events and communicate about them. It is vital that Romanian destinations enter into real competition with each other so as to differentiate themselves and attract as many tourists as possible.


Economists say that Romania cannot rely on tourism in the same way that other countries around us do because the added value of these services is quite low, and seasonality does not allow a longer and more sustained exploitation of this field. In addition, inflation (the highest in the EU) and the fall in certain macro-economic indicators are leading to stagnation in the Romanian economy, with some specialists even talking about a possible economic recession in the near future. What do you think, can tourism be in the top 5 contributors to the Romanian economy? How could this be achieved?

Of course, tourism could be among the top 5 industries contributing to the Romanian economy, as we ALREADY have attractiveness and uniqueness through many Romanian destinations – the Danube Delta, Transylvania, fortresses and palaces, castles and manor houses, Bucovina of painted monasteries, historic cities, wine roads, wild and beautiful Dobrogea, of course and a coastline with 245 km of marine coastline on the Black Sea and the largest and finest beaches in Europe.

What we lack is the assumption of a Country Strategy that prioritizes the hospitality industry – to attract millions of foreign tourists and, with them, investments in Romania, generated by the increase in the number of tourists and the attractiveness of Romania as a destination.

For so many years, we have ignored the huge potential of this industry – even though all we should be doing is harnessing this potential and learning to “sell ourselves”. I can’t agree that we are so poorly promoted, compared to European countries that don’t have even a third of the attractions and uniqueness of so many Romanian destinations.

It is, I repeat, a major mistake repeated by all parties in government to ignore this industry and the huge value that would be generated by the export of Romanian tourism services.

Finally, please tell us what will be the trends in Romanian tourism this year? Where will Romanian tourists go this summer in the country, but abroad? Do you think the number of foreign tourists in Romania will increase in 2024? 

I am convinced that we will have a better year and a higher number of tourists this year. Fortunately (though unsustainably) we still have holiday vouchers in circulation and that helps a lot, going forward. Romanian tour operators still need this help, after the pandemic that severely affected us and in the absence of support for the promotion of Romania as a tourist destination, which the Romanian state does not provide.

In addition to tickets, however, the online promotion of excellent locations and very good services, the international events organized, the investment efforts of operators who still have faith in the potential of tourism in this country and have invested and risked in this industry – will attract more tourists to Romania.

And I join them in continuing.


Corina Martin’s Bio

– Owner of Mistral Tours & Events Constanta

– Secretary General of the Federation of Employers in the Hospitality Industry in Romania (FPIOR)

– Honorary President of RESTO Employers Association Constanta

– Honorary Consul of the Republic of KAZAKHSTAN in Constanta, Tulcea, Galati, Vaslui, Iasi, Calarasi, Ialomita, Giurgiu, Teleorman