Travel Agencies in Romania See Revenues Up 25%

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Travel Agencies in Romania See Revenues Up 25%

Romania's EU integration, Sibiu's appointment as a European capital of culture, the lack of bad weather to hurt the profits of the seaside resorts and the diversification of charter flights last year drove travel agencies' turnovers up by 25% on average against 2006, Ziarul Financiar reported.

The top ten players on this market last year generated turnovers worth above 240m euros, compared with the 192m euros reached in 2006, according to data received from companies.

For this year, projections are even more upbeat, after a good start with events such as the NATO summit, hosted in Bucharest in April, and the European football Championships where Romania is again present after an eight-year absence.

According to the data published by the National Association of Travel Agencies (ANAT), 10% more tourists arrived in Romania last year, while 25% more Romanians chose to spend their holidays abroad, with Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Spain and Italy as the favorite destinations. The increase also came amid the rising number of charter flights, with 80 charter flights being registered in 2007 for over 30 destinations which ANAT tour-operators members were involved in.

Despite most Romanians still choosing traditional destinations, the segments of exotic destinations or cruises last year saw significant growth.

According to travel agencies, on the cruises segment, the number of packages sold domestically rose by around 50% year-on-year in 2007, to 3,000. Despite being considered a luxury product whose prices can be as high as 27,000 euros, travel agencies say such packages will see further significant growth this year.

During last year's summer season, which started in May and lasted until September because of the very good temperatures, Romanians spent almost half a billion euros on holidays abroad, with almost 700,000 people choosing foreign travel packages.

All these increases brought the domestic hospitality industry revenues worth around 1,068bn euros, 34m euros more than in 2006. However, Romanians' expenditures abroad topped this sum and reached 1.1bn euros, 66m euros more than in 2006. Thus, the travel deficit hit 33m euros, significantly higher than the 1m euros posted in the previous year.

ANAT representatives say the domestic environment does not have the necessary appeal and for the time being lacks the instruments it needs to make foreign tourists spend more when coming to Romania. Another problem is the fact that for the time being half of the people coming to Romania travel to this destination for business purposes. This year, the number of tourists is expected to soar by 10-15%.

The latest WTTC survey shows travel is still an extremely weak contributor to GDP in Romania.

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