Tourism start-ups in Romania – Focus and Influence

RO: Sunt o persoană pasionată și interesul meu major este în partea de antreprenoriat. Am ales acest domeniu cu inima și ce iubesc din lumea start-up-urilor este entuziasmul, creativitatea, inovația, munca asiduă și perseverența. Am mai multă experienta în partea de educație, la vârsta de 17 ani am început să lucrez la un proiect despre știință și împreună cu o echipă de mai bine de 20 de tineri liceeni am reușit să construim “Fabrica de experimente” (The Experiments Factory). În esență ne ocupăm cu truse de experimente simple și show-uri științifice pentru copilași. Acum aș vrea să călătoresc așa că turismul a devenit o prioritate în sfera mea de interes.

EN: I am a passionate person and my greatest interest is in entrepreneurship. I chose this field with my heart and what I love about the startups world is its enthusiasm, creativity and innovation, hard-work and perseverance. I am more into education, at 17 I began to work at a project in science and together with a team of more than 20 high-school students, we managed to build “Fabrica de experimente” (The Experiments Factory). Basically we do simple experiments boxes and science shows for children. Now, I want to travel the world so turism also became a priority in my area of interest.

I am going to talk now a little bit about tourism and how the Romanian tourism has been influenced by private initiatives. I have researched this domain and I found some pretty interesting projects that gave me hope regarding the future of tourism in Romania. Before doing the research I was convinced that tourists only visit the capital city and maybe Transylvania because of the Dracula stories but I’ve never imagined they are interested in other areas. Romania can be considered a cultural destination because it is a diverse country in which people can find activities regarding of their preferences and that is why Romanian entrepreneurs found ways to value this unexploited potential.

First, the most interesting story that I’ve found is about Daniel Truica, the person who bravely founded Vola.ro 10 years ago. Maybe you’ve heard about this business before – the idea is in finding the best (cheapest, fastest, etc) flights from all the airlines available. Daniel got a scholarship in USA and after his studies he got 2 polish partners and started working at Vola.ro. He decided to go against the crowd so he went straight online, unlike most of the travel agencies that time. Vola.ro is now at 63 million euros income/year.

In the beginning of 2017 Vola.ro launched Local Escapes, a platform which reunites the coolest accommodation places in Romania, together with unique activities that will make the staying more enjoyable. In this way a big company succeeded to address a national issue (local tourism) and helped the country promote its beautiful places, attracting foreigners. In the future Daniel plans to launch Smart Connections, a special algorithm that will enable Vola.ro to have its exclusive flight options, not available on other similar sites.

Sursa: start-up.ro

The next story is about a lawyer, Marius Iliescu, who decided that business law is not a challenge anymore so he became an entrepreneur, more precise, a tourism oriented entrepreneur. He founded Romanian Friend, a platform which encourages foreigners to visit and explore Romania in a personalized way. I find this initiative really inspiring because many people around me have similar ideas but they never put them into practice, so finding a lawyer who chose to help the Romanian tourism grow is fantastic. He started some time ago from the idea his international friends saw his as an Ambassador of Romanian beauties when they asked him about his country. He researched the markets both national and international and on 15th of January 2017 he launched Romanian Friend. He works with local guides from areas in Romania and his services are oriented to Millennials and The X Generation who travel independently, using online tools to plan their trip. What Marius is building is a digitalization of the Romanian tourism so locals can help foreigners experience their country in a unique way, focusing on collaboration and trust.

Sursa: Nine O’ Clock

Other initiatives that deserve to be mentioned are the tourism projects like “Tara lui Andrei”, that supports ”Scoala Village Life” which aims to promote rural tourism to foreigners. Transilvania Train is a 4 days trip with a train which rose from the partnership between 2 tourism agencies: Globe 365 and Free Spirit. They want to change the preconception that travelling by train in Romania is a bad experience and also show the foreign and Romanian travellers the beauties of Transylvania in a way which resembles the international area. The train began his journey on the 31st of August and the next trip is going to be probably next year so stay tuned!

Sursa: Libertatea

The last project I’ll talk about is called Experience Bucharest and what made me so interested about it is that it’s a made by volunteers with a small budget but a great impact. More than 100 people were involved, from tourism agencies to students and the purpose of this movement was to extend the number of nights a typical tourist spends in the capital, from 2 to 3, and to create some valuable online content about this beautiful city which, by the way, is my hometown.

Sursa: Tourism Market

If you read until here it means you were at least a little bit caught up by these initiatives so I advise you to dig more and who knows, maybe support them if you are interested. In my mind one thing is clear, that people, regardless of their background and location, have the ability to change and hopefully they choose, like the examples above, to focus on this country.

Alexandra Butmalai

Member of the Romanian team in Entrepreneurship Education for Cultural Tourism mobility