An increasing number of Romanians who live abroad are returning home to spend their holidays and they do not come alone, but bring with them their friends, colleagues or family members of another nationality. Thus, they promote the image of the country and lead to Romania’s economic growth through tourism.
We talked to 5 Romanians living in Belgium, Ireland, France and the Netherlands about the visits to Romania that they organized in the past and those they want to organize in 2019 for their close acquaintances. We also asked them how would they like to improve the image of Romania and, at the end, we included some tips from them about how to organize such a visit.
The main reasons why Romanians decide to organize such a trip are that they want to improve the image of the country, help their friends understand our culture and show them the places where they grew up.
Liliana (from Timisoara), who left the country after the 1989 Revolution, is coming for the first time with her Irish husband in Romania. “The tour was my idea. Although we have been married for more than 10 years, my husband was reluctant to visit Romania only from what he heard. I would like to show my husband the real face of our country, to understand our culture and the Latin roots. I would like him to understand how rich our culture is. “
For Carolina (from Craiova) married to Olivier, a Frenchman “who loves Romania at least as much as I do, maybe even a little bit more” and mother of three children born and raised in Paris, this is a repeated experience . “Together with my husband we came to Romania many times on holiday, to the sea or to a mountainous resort. For my family we organized a trip to Braşov when we held the religious ceremony of our wedding, and with the children we visited some regions related to my family history (in Oltenia and Banat) and some other places. For 2019, we are very keen to spend the winter holidays in Maramures and Bucovina, in order to experience the local traditions, to get to know other people and places. It is an opportunity for us, but also for our family and friends in Romania, to get to know another side of Romania.”
Adriana (from Orastie), who lives in Amsterdam and is married to a Dutch citizen, plans to come to Romania with a large group of friends this spring. Although some of them have already visited the country on Adriana’s wedding (organized at Bran Castle and in the Moeciul de Sus area), this time Adriana wants to show them the area where she grew up. “I post things that I find beautiful about Romania whenever I come back home, partly because that’s how I feel at home, and partly because I want my friends to see Romania through my eyes. I have received requests from friends who were at the wedding and who have already seen the touristy area around Brasov, they asked me about the places where I grew up and expressed their wish to visit them. But I also received requests from friends who have not seen Romania before, and who would also like to start with my places of origin in the Transylvanian area (Hunedoara County). This is how I came up with the idea of organizing a trip for all of them with focus on uncovering traditional Transylvania.”
The friends of Malina, who currently lives in Amsterdam and is married to a Portuguese, also came for the first time in Romania when she celebrated her wedding: “The Romanian warmth, the food, the drinks and the incredible landscapes touched them enormously. Even after 5 years have passed they still tell me about how incredible the trip to Romania was and how much they would like to come back. And some of them even returned on holiday or for different festivals. Besides taking part in the wedding, the main objective of the trip was to visit Transylvania, the place with which I greatly identify, to meet the local people, to taste the traditional food and to understand our history.”
What is the image of the country that the Romanians are trying to change?
Liliana tells us that unfortunately, foreigners do not know “much about Romania – they heard only about Dracula, Nadia and Hagi.” Cosmin, who has been living in Brussels for more than 16 years, claims that from a touristic point of view, Romania is either praised by those who have already seen it or is somewhat unknown and is part of that list that we all have “someday … I will visit that country …” “.
Romanians would like their guests who visit Romania to enjoy “authentic experiences and meet people that are simple but eager to share their history, culture and traditions.” (Carolina).
Among the places most often included in the itinerary are Transylvania, its well-preserved medieval towns and the capital Bucharest. Also not to be missed from the list are the picturesque landscapes and natural attractions of the country. From her own experience, Adriana tells us that “it’s important to visit the emblematic places of Romania, because every tourist would like to see them. But what impressed my friends most was nature. Wild and savage, disorderly and dangerous, original and “true”. “
Visits organized on their own or with travel agencies
Romanians organize their holidays back home both on their own and with the help of a travel agency. Liliana has called on an agency because “it’s not easy to control all the details and enjoy a new, worry-free experience. I thought an agency could ease and improve such an experience.” Carolina also says that the main advantage of having a specialized agency take care of the trip is “the opportunity to make the most of the time spent in Romania and taking advantage of the knowledge and the networks an agency has. “
Malina, who at the time was busy organizing the latest details for the wedding, was delighted to be able to leave her guests in the hands of specialists: “The trip went perfectly, from what I heard from my Portuguese family and foreign friends, as I was taking care of the last details for the wedding and I could not participate. They returned enamored of the country after their 4-days-long trip, especially expressing their liking for the beauties of the country and the papansi. They enjoyed everything, from the places they visited, to the atmosphere of the trip, to how many details they found out about Romania … it was the perfect trip! And I was totally confident that they will feel at home!” When it comes to 2-3 people who want to visit the country, then Malina is the one who helps them with the organization of the visit.
Cosmin, who is unable to accompany their friends on their trip through Romania, advised them to contact a local agency: “It’s much easier to be accompanied by a local and for me it’s easy to recommend a professional service to people. Because I can’t personally come together with all my friends who want to visit Romania, I prefer to leave them in good hands. “
We, at Via Transylvania Tours, registered a significant increase in demands from Romanians who want to take part in a personalized tour with their family and foreign friends. And not just those who left in the last 30 years want to come for holiday in Romania, but also those who left 60-70 years ago (or their children and grandchildren) and even the descendants of those who left over 100 years ago. The latter usually choose a customized Private Genealogy Tour during which they combine visits to Romania’s touristic places with visits to places of personal interest and finding out about their background.
What surprised those visiting Romania?
Those who had the opportunity to visit the country returned completely surprised by what they saw, being particularly impressed by Transylvania, Bucharest and especially the Danube Delta, told us Liliana and Cosmin.
Adriana thinks that “Romania is not yet on the” must see “list of anyone. Or if it is, it’s without a plan, without a before-established budget or days off taken specifically for it. There are many other places in the world that Western European tourists prefer to visit, or are higher up on their priority lists. Romania gets on their list in conjunctions similar to ours, where they are either invited to an event, visit the country because of work, or they want to visit some friends’ birthplaces with those friends. But all those people who once visited Romania want to come back. Without exception. Only then does Romania make their place on their list of “to be seen” or “to be revisited”. “
Tips on how to organize a visit for your foreign friends and family to your home country
If you are also among those Romanians who want to share the beauty of their native country, here are some tips on how to organize a successful trip for your friends or family from abroad:
Consider their interests
Do they like to spend time in nature, discover the history of medieval towns, visit museums or explore less-known places? Do they have specific interests, such as photography or architecture? If all of you have common interests, it’s a piece of cake to establish a good itinerary! Otherwise, organizing a trip that fits everyone’s interests can be quite difficult, so keep in mind that it’s recommended to include a little bit of each other’s passions or offer alternatives.
Focus on a few areas in the country
We know you want your friends to see as much of the country as possible, but showing them the castles of Transylvania, the monasteries of Bucovina, the wooden churches in Maramures, the beauty of the Danube Delta and maybe also spending a few days at the seaside it’s going overboard. Such an itinerary can be tedious, especially since unexpected situations can always occur. Just focus on a few areas of interest or leave aside enough time so that you don’t feel you’re always in a hurry. After all, it’s a holiday!
Show them the true face of Romania
What makes us unique? Show them the customs and traditions that are still alive, go to a folk festival, shop at a local market, or spend a night in a traditional guesthouse.
Tell them stories about the places you visit
You’ve probably heard that by using the right words you can turn even a ruin into a palace. A good story stimulates the imagination, takes us back in time and helps us better understand the importance and historical context of a tourist attraction. After all, no one retains the year when a church was built, but everyone remembers a story or a legend about it.
Reach out to a travel agency
If you think planning a trip it’s too much work or if you want to organize a tour that will blow everyone’s mind, but you do not have the time or knowledge to do so, consider contacting a local travel agency. This way even you will discover a new side of Romania, while enjoying the relaxation specific to a holiday. See some of our 2019 Romania tours here.
Although it’s difficult to know the exact number of Romanians who left the country, it is estimated that around 5 million Romanians live in other countries in Europe and over 1 million live in the United States and Canada (FADERE). This is a significant number, representing more than a quarter of the actual population of the country (19,6 million people). The largest community of Romanians can be found in Italy, followed by Spain, with over 1.2 million Romanians each.
Over the years, there have been many emigration waves that can explain this situation, starting with the Jews and Germans that left the country in the communism period. Just after the 1989 Anti-communism Revolution a large number of Romanians emigrated to the United States and other countries in Europe, while the peak was achieved in 2007, when Romania joined the European Union. Since then, a steady number of Romanians leave the country each year.
The positive things is that now, more and more of them, proud of their origins, promote the country abroad, return home and bring together with them their friends, relatives and colleagues.