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Older British Travellers Flocking to Romania in Record Numbers

18 December 2019 Romania No comment


Romania’s tourism industry has been welcoming growing numbers of overseas visitors for several years. And according to a new study, it is proving particularly popular as a holiday destination with a particular group of travellers – senior citizens aged 65 and over.


According to the report from Avanti, a travel insurance provider that specialises in policies for older people and those with medical conditions, the number of over-65s travelling to Romania from abroad has rocketed in the past 20 years. It mentions that visits from senior citizens from the UK, in particular, have soared by 2120% – more than 20 times the numbers who arrived in 1998.


Overall, foreign visitors account for roughly a quarter of all tourists in Romania, with domestic tourism still dominating the market. The country still has a way to go to catch up with the success of its neighbour Bulgaria in opening up its tourist sector to overseas markets, but there are signs of steady progress being made.


While numbers of older travellers from the UK have increased dramatically over the past two decades, Romania welcomes the greatest number of foreign tourists overall from Germany (around 145,000 a year), Israel (120,000) and Italy (112,500).


Contrasting attractions


In terms of the most popular destinations in the country, the capital Bucharest continues to dominate, accounting for more than 1.6 million ‘tourist nights’ per year, although the historic Transylvanian city of Brasov (1.15 million) and the coastal city of Constanta (875,000) also feature prominently. These latter two cities also reflect two of the contrasting attractions Romania has to offer to travellers – the beautiful scenery and ancient cultural history of the Carpathian mountains, and the warm summer resorts of the Black Sea coast.


This variety perhaps partially explains why Romania is proving increasingly popular with older foreign tourists in particular – there is something for everyone, and different attractions to draw in visitors all year round, not just in the hectic summer holiday season.


Avanti’s report also suggests that older people may be increasingly likely to discover new places like Romania because they are embracing independent travel over package holidays organised by mainstream travel agents and tour operators. Back in 1998, when overseas visitor numbers to Romania were a fraction of what they are today, 51% of over-65s in the UK organised their own travel and accommodation when they headed abroad, compared to 49% who relied on package holidays.


Today, that gap has widened significantly to 60% booking holidays independently. That’s still a lower percentage than younger age groups – three-quarters of 16-24-year-olds make their own arrangements, for example, and are therefore presumably even more likely to explore new places when they head abroad.


For a country like Romania which is off the well-worn mainstream tourism path beaten over decades by the package holiday providers, the rise in independent travel amongst all age groups presents a significant opportunity. Businesses in the country’s tourism sector should make the most of it by making sure they keep listings with the major online booking websites up to date and embrace the available partnerships.



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