Răzvan Pascu is an important voice in the world of tourism in Romania, that’s why we wanted to know his opinion about destinations, holidays and travel before the summer season starts. We also discussed what the authorities could do to make tourism in Romania more developed and profitable, offering unique experiences to tourists. In addition, we also learn from this material that investing in Dubai in real estate is profitable and can offer returns beyond expectations.

I choose my destinations based on personal experience

Răzvan Pascu
Răzvan Pascu

What are the main international tourist destinations of 2023? What do you recommend? What tourist circuits are you preparing this year?

The trend over the last two years has been influenced by the extent to which certain destinations were closed during the pandemic period. That’s why at the end of 2022 we saw exotic destinations such as Seychelles, Israel, Japan and even Australia on the list of Romanians’ preferences, countries whose borders were closed until the middle of last year.

Beyond trends, I also choose my destinations based on personal experience and always try to offer my tourists a mix of traditions, local experience, gastronomy, comfort and relaxation. My goal is that at the end of the trip, the tourist feels richer not only in information and culture, but also in life experience. Among the destinations preferred by tourists and in high demand for the year 2023 are: Tanzania & Zanzibar, Japan, US West Coast, Jordan, South America (Brazil and Argentina) and Mexico. In all of these destinations we have tours this year and all are almost sold out. Other less exotic and slightly closer but no less attractive recommendations would be Ireland, Israel, Dubai and Lapland in December.

Cruises are sure to be back in vogue this year as well, a unique way to visit several countries in one holiday.

I’ve always considered holidays an investment

Many people find exotic destinations extremely expensive. What is the truth?

I’ve always considered holidays an investment. An investment in our general culture, in our family memories, in our life experience. The difference between expensive and cheap is determined by each family’s travel budget and the alternative we have for that money. Ideally, we should not skip steps and try to explore different types of trips gradually, even the most expensive ones, as far as our budget allows.

I wouldn’t say that any holiday or destination is expensive, but rather that I can’t afford that kind of service. An exotic destination means longer distances, long flights with airlines, remote places where it’s harder to build, special natural surroundings, etc. There are situations where I could find a 7-day stay in an exotic destination like Tanzania & Zanzibar, Thailand, Dominican Republic, Bali that would be much more decently priced than our Mamaia resort, for example, which is not exotic at all. The notion of expensive is debatable. It depends on what you want as a tourist, what you prioritize in terms of spending over the year, what you expect on the spot, etc. A 2 week holiday in an exotic destination such as the above, costing 4000 euro/person, can be expensive for someone living on minimum wage and cheap for someone in your magazine’s audience.

Can tourism in exotic countries be considered an investment? After all, we only have one life…

It certainly does. Travel I believe is the only investment from which we come back richer and which brings us “profit” in the long run: knowledge, self-discovery, collectible memories, a time spent in the heart of another place we will never forget. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never met a tourist who came back from a holiday with me and said they regretted paying for it. I think that’s why, year after year, hundreds of tourists return to my trips, many of whom I have already made friends with. So, yes.

Nobody seems to be interested in putting us on a tourist map

What should Romania do in the coming years to become a more important tourist destination in the region?

Romania should do something… almost anything in terms of external promotion, where nothing has been done for years, efforts in this direction are almost non-existent. Nobody seems to be interested in putting us on a tourist map. Promotion is done at regional level with great success (an example of good practice is Harghita County), but not at national level at all. And then we talk about infrastructure… When it takes hours to drive from Bucharest to Sibiu, for example, it’s hard to talk about tourism and attract tourists from other countries.

Why do Romanian tourists prefer destinations in the region (Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Spain)? Is it only because of the price of travel and less time spent on the plane? Why don’t more Romanians experience other destinations and prefer to go to the same place 10 times? For convenience? Other reasons?

Out of convenience, out of fear of not spending so much time on the road, but also out of great ignorance and lack of information, unfortunately. I don’t want to say lack of courage, because here everyone knows their own limits and choices better. But I think the Romanian is a little reluctant to the idea of the new. If we go to a place and see that we are doing well, we seem afraid to try something new. This is especially true for families with children, where it is indeed harder to organize an exotic trip, but not impossible. My advice, and I say it with all my heart, is to try for once in your life to go with your family on such a journey, further afield, to another continent. It will change your perspective and the way you relate to a future holiday.

In the last 8 months I have sold 45 million euros

Dubai has become an attractive destination for city breaks or short holidays. The Arab state has also started to attract real estate investment with the tourism boom. How convenient are the real estate investments in this state?

If 70 years ago the Dubai of today was just another fishing village in the Persian Gulf, today it is one of the most important international financial, commercial and transport centers, an ever-expanding city, a market that is developing at an accelerated pace, according to a concrete, thoroughly worked-out plan for the next decades (it was presented at Dubai Expo).

Prospects for property price growth are high in Dubai over 10-15 years, especially in new areas, which in 10 years’ time will basically be part of the centre as the city continues to grow. In the last 2 years alone, real estate prices have increased by 30% on off-plan projects, but still remain significantly lower than in other major world cities of the same scale, making Dubai an affordable location for large-scale investments. In addition, compared to 2020, in 2021 the volume of real estate transactions increased by more than 60% in Dubai and by more than 70% in value. Around 40% of these transactions are new builds, yet prices are still much lower than in 2008. Construction never stops, neighborhoods are being built from scratch, Dubai is expanding by the day in a fantastic way.

I believe that it is profitable in the long term to invest in real estate in Dubai nowadays. That’s why even I chose to invest in 3 apartments there and represent in Romania and Moldova the real estate developer SOBHA Dubai, the only real estate developer with a Harvard case study on construction quality and explosive growth. In the last year alone, we have helped over 100 Romanians to invest in an apartment in Dubai, with payment in instalments over 4 years and with prices starting from 360.000 euro for a 2-bedroom apartment. In the last 8 months I have sold 45 million euros, and one of my biggest clients works in the gambling industry, reads your magazine and is from Iasi.

We want to offer all types of tourism, instead of focusing on what we have that is different from other countries

If you were a travel agent in another country and had to present Romania as an exotic tourist country, what type of tourism would you go for: adventure tourism, family tourism, city break, Delta, Coastal, cultural tourism, or something else? Can we have a more segmented tourism, more easily differentiated from others? Isn’t it wrong to claim that you can offer all types of tourism, but actually have mediocre service in all market segments?

I think that besides the lack of external promotion and infrastructure, this is one of our main mistakes in tourism: the fact that we want to offer all types of tourism, instead of focusing on what we have that is different from other countries. We can’t compare in terms of coastline (beaches and sea) Greece, Croatia not even Albania or Bulgaria, but we can promote more clubbing on the coast, in Mamaia, if we want to focus on this area. Or resorts like Olimp and Neptun for families with children. To promote more adventure tourism, eco-tourism and agro-tourism, the authentic experiences we can offer to tourists, especially those from developed countries, where ”country life” is almost a concept than a reality, traditions have disappeared and the concept of slow-living is luxury.