Romania Insider Stories from readers - Damian Galvin on restarting tourism

The article below has been written by one of our readers, Damian Galvin, a British investor who first came to Romania in 2003. A real estate investor in Romania ever since, Damian wrote the following text as a comment to one of our articles on www.romania-insider.com, which was asking readers how could we re-start Romania (original article here).

Feel free to share any stories from Romania with our readers and the world. Send us a story by e-mail:  Editor - in - Chief Corina Saceanu, corina@romania-insider.com and we'll consider it for publication in the Romania Insider Stories series.

"I've personally shown over 300 foreign people around Romania since 2003 and every single one has loved it. But there are some glaringly obvious ways in which Romania can help itself with tourism. The good people here are some of the best you could wish to meet anywhere. The less good have the stronger voice though. Common criticisms I hear from visitors are below, with solutions:

Tourist information and visitor help: This is so ridiculously obvious, it's barely worth my time writing it. Bucharest is the only capital in Europe without a TI center! unless it has changed recently and I am not aware. The TI center in Brasov is closed at weekends! Hello? Anyone in there? Seems not! How much intelligence does it take to work that one out? Clearly more than is available.

The airports are swamped by scumbag taxi drivers with knackered cars, non functioning meters & the worst possible attitude to visitors you could hope not to have. Many are unlicensed and un-policed. I have been quoted 20 euros to get from Baneasa airport to Ikea, which is 250, yes 250 meters away! Try Krakow airport in Poland. You could lick the floor, it's so clean. Control the first impression! Don't just treat border gateways such as airports like the back alley to a shipping port's train station!

Litter, green spaces and cleanliness: I live in Brasov and spend weekends in or around Bran, Moeciu, Poiana etc. Many rivers are full of plastic bottles, old clothes, broken sofa's etc. Even the little stream by the black & white towers in Brasov is litter strewn. There is no national consciousness or pride at all about litter. It should be a common vision and a national campaign should be started, along the lines of 'Beautiful Romania - don't spoil it' . I often see people picnicking next to metal rubbish skips so they don't have to walk far to get rid of their scraps. Others just dump it in lay-by's or in the middle of a beauty spot. There should be severe and instant penalties for litter bugs. Plastic takes 50 years to decompose. You should not be in minority when you complain to someone you have seen dumping non- bio degradable rubbish. It should be as unacceptable as stubbing out a cigarette on carpet.

Public information: In Paris, Bus terminals you can see flight information so you time your bus to meet the flight! in Romania, you can't even see flight information in airports! Information is key. People on holiday need to feel safe, secure and cared for. It is not an obligation for tourists to come to Romania. But for sure, if handled well, they would love their stay here.

I maintain that Romania is one of the most peaceful places I have traveled to, from the 50 or 60 countries I have previously explored. Crime is mostly non-violent, children still have respect, town squares are relatively quiet at midnight and you don't see many drunken yobs around, making many Romanian cities a great place for a family or romantic break. I know if I took my girlfriend out in Oxford, or even Leamington Spa on a Saturday evening, the odds of some yob making a comment about her would be 10:1. In Brasov, almost certainly we would not experience this. But people don't get that far because the first impression is so unwelcoming, people can't wait to leave, unless they are being met by locals or on an organized tour. I read a few months ago that in Romania, tourists' length of stay was the lowest in comparison to a large number of comparative countries, but frustratingly, it need not be that way.

The perception of Romania in the UK is very low. I met a top British Barrister driving from London to Istanbul who stopped in Romania only for fuel, but stayed 3 days as he liked it so much. He was stunned, to use his words, at how beautiful the country was and how nice the people were. He said 'I thought I was being brave coming via Romania and I nearly chickened out, en route to Turkey, but how wrong I was'. This from a well traveled man in his 70's, with several homes in Europe, he claimed.

But what is being done to nurture tourism? Sweet FA I'm afraid, and what a missed opportunity. Bulgarians see it differently and have done very very well from it. And they have nothing on Romania. What a loss."

By Damian Galvin

About Damian Galvin:

Born to Irish parents, I was always a little restless living in England as I did. Of course, it's home to me, but I have been a round peg in a square hole. I came to Romania in 2003 with a volunteer fire crew, to fit a kitchen in an orphanage. As many do, I fell in love with the rugged, unspoiled nature of the country and the traditional values held by Romanians. In 2008, I threw in my automotive career of 24 years, my company Jaguar & Landrover & home in the Cotswolds, mainly because I was unable to pay the mortgages for my Romanian property without renting them out, when they lay unrented and mishandled, so I came out to put my house in order. Theory was, I would only have to collect the rent & sit back. In reality, I worked 6 days a week ever since. Recognizing the total lack of any kind of Property management company, I built White Mountain Property real estate agency from a blank sheet of paper. It has been a sharp lesson surviving Romania.

You can read more about Damian Galvin on www.romania-insider.com soon. Check back our Expat Profile section.

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Romania Insider Stories from readers - Damian Galvin on restarting tourism

The article below has been written by one of our readers, Damian Galvin, a British investor who first came to Romania in 2003. A real estate investor in Romania ever since, Damian wrote the following text as a comment to one of our articles on www.romania-insider.com, which was asking readers how could we re-start Romania (original article here).

Feel free to share any stories from Romania with our readers and the world. Send us a story by e-mail:  Editor - in - Chief Corina Saceanu, corina@romania-insider.com and we'll consider it for publication in the Romania Insider Stories series.

"I've personally shown over 300 foreign people around Romania since 2003 and every single one has loved it. But there are some glaringly obvious ways in which Romania can help itself with tourism. The good people here are some of the best you could wish to meet anywhere. The less good have the stronger voice though. Common criticisms I hear from visitors are below, with solutions:

Tourist information and visitor help: This is so ridiculously obvious, it's barely worth my time writing it. Bucharest is the only capital in Europe without a TI center! unless it has changed recently and I am not aware. The TI center in Brasov is closed at weekends! Hello? Anyone in there? Seems not! How much intelligence does it take to work that one out? Clearly more than is available.

The airports are swamped by scumbag taxi drivers with knackered cars, non functioning meters & the worst possible attitude to visitors you could hope not to have. Many are unlicensed and un-policed. I have been quoted 20 euros to get from Baneasa airport to Ikea, which is 250, yes 250 meters away! Try Krakow airport in Poland. You could lick the floor, it's so clean. Control the first impression! Don't just treat border gateways such as airports like the back alley to a shipping port's train station!

Litter, green spaces and cleanliness: I live in Brasov and spend weekends in or around Bran, Moeciu, Poiana etc. Many rivers are full of plastic bottles, old clothes, broken sofa's etc. Even the little stream by the black & white towers in Brasov is litter strewn. There is no national consciousness or pride at all about litter. It should be a common vision and a national campaign should be started, along the lines of 'Beautiful Romania - don't spoil it' . I often see people picnicking next to metal rubbish skips so they don't have to walk far to get rid of their scraps. Others just dump it in lay-by's or in the middle of a beauty spot. There should be severe and instant penalties for litter bugs. Plastic takes 50 years to decompose. You should not be in minority when you complain to someone you have seen dumping non- bio degradable rubbish. It should be as unacceptable as stubbing out a cigarette on carpet.

Public information: In Paris, Bus terminals you can see flight information so you time your bus to meet the flight! in Romania, you can't even see flight information in airports! Information is key. People on holiday need to feel safe, secure and cared for. It is not an obligation for tourists to come to Romania. But for sure, if handled well, they would love their stay here.

I maintain that Romania is one of the most peaceful places I have traveled to, from the 50 or 60 countries I have previously explored. Crime is mostly non-violent, children still have respect, town squares are relatively quiet at midnight and you don't see many drunken yobs around, making many Romanian cities a great place for a family or romantic break. I know if I took my girlfriend out in Oxford, or even Leamington Spa on a Saturday evening, the odds of some yob making a comment about her would be 10:1. In Brasov, almost certainly we would not experience this. But people don't get that far because the first impression is so unwelcoming, people can't wait to leave, unless they are being met by locals or on an organized tour. I read a few months ago that in Romania, tourists' length of stay was the lowest in comparison to a large number of comparative countries, but frustratingly, it need not be that way.

The perception of Romania in the UK is very low. I met a top British Barrister driving from London to Istanbul who stopped in Romania only for fuel, but stayed 3 days as he liked it so much. He was stunned, to use his words, at how beautiful the country was and how nice the people were. He said 'I thought I was being brave coming via Romania and I nearly chickened out, en route to Turkey, but how wrong I was'. This from a well traveled man in his 70's, with several homes in Europe, he claimed.

But what is being done to nurture tourism? Sweet FA I'm afraid, and what a missed opportunity. Bulgarians see it differently and have done very very well from it. And they have nothing on Romania. What a loss."

By Damian Galvin

About Damian Galvin:

Born to Irish parents, I was always a little restless living in England as I did. Of course, it's home to me, but I have been a round peg in a square hole. I came to Romania in 2003 with a volunteer fire crew, to fit a kitchen in an orphanage. As many do, I fell in love with the rugged, unspoiled nature of the country and the traditional values held by Romanians. In 2008, I threw in my automotive career of 24 years, my company Jaguar & Landrover & home in the Cotswolds, mainly because I was unable to pay the mortgages for my Romanian property without renting them out, when they lay unrented and mishandled, so I came out to put my house in order. Theory was, I would only have to collect the rent & sit back. In reality, I worked 6 days a week ever since. Recognizing the total lack of any kind of Property management company, I built White Mountain Property real estate agency from a blank sheet of paper. It has been a sharp lesson surviving Romania.

You can read more about Damian Galvin on www.romania-insider.com soon. Check back our Expat Profile section.

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