The Romanian coast 2023: a season a little better than the previous one, but with many challenges!
The National Association of Travel Agencies (ANAT) has achieved, with the support of members and partners who promote and sell Romanian seaside, a study of the 2023 summer season. First, we're talking about a 2023 season that's better than 2022, but still below 2019.
The statements of the representatives of the travel agencies that sell the Romanian Coast
Bibi Tour operator
"The season started promisingly, but bookings dropped significantly in July and August. Although prices have increased by 10-20%, the budget has remained low due to the reduction in the average length of stay. Higher-than-official inflation eroded any growth. In addition, cold water with a temperature of 13 degrees Celsius in August is an unprecedented phenomenon in the last 30 years", points out Adrian Voican, vice-president of ANAT and general manager of Bibi Touroperator.
The average value of a reservation was 2500 lei, up 5% compared to the previous year, and the average length of stay decreased from 4,9 to 4,7 nights. "The first sales for 2024 have already started, in September and especially at the hotels that understood that next year will probably be one of recession and as such they did not increase the prices. There are also hotels that have actually reduced their rates compared to this year, for next year. "Early Bird" programs offer big discounts. The number of holiday vouchers will, unfortunately, decrease last year, due to the limitation to salaries below 8000 lei. This measure will have the impact of a decrease in demand. Hoteliers must promote a good pricing policy if they want to sell", adds Adrian Voican.
"We had higher sales than in 2022. I think the average rate increase was under 10%, as we endured a VAT increase from 5% to 9% (nearly doubling). We will wait for the official figures from the statistics, but I believe that the number of tourists was slightly higher than in 2022. The month of June was considerably better than June 2022 for most hotels.
Paradise Dream Vacations
The holiday that started earlier mattered, but also the Pentecost holiday, which brought a very large influx of tourists between June 1-4. But July has been affected in terms of occupancy, and this is mainly due to poor sales in June for the entire season (with known causes: teacher strike, Ukraine crisis, cholera, E. coli, etc.) . From our perspective, we're up 21% in sales over last year, per agency. Mamaia shows a slight recovery compared to 2022. Our seaside sales are higher than in 2019. The hotels we have under management have higher sales than in 2022 (between 5 and 12%)", says Aurelian Marin, ANAT vice president and general manager Paradise Dream Vacations.
July was at most on par with June 2022, maybe a little weaker. In the fall of 2022, hoteliers took a cautious approach to raising rates for 2023. "I hope the same thing happens this fall for the 2024 season. The first signals are good, we haven't noticed any exaggerated growth trends. I expect increases of 6-8-10% in hotels well positioned in the market and with consistently good service, with market-adapted and dynamic sales policies. Otherwise, I expect similar rates or increases of no more than 5%. On the other hand, I don't think we will have lower rates compared to 2023 except as exceptions", adds Aurelian Marin.
According to the Eximtur company, the resorts, in order of sales, were: Mamaia, Eforie Nord, Olimp, Venus, Saturn, Cap Aurora, Jupiter, Neptun, Mangalia, Costinești, Eforie Sud, Techirghiol, Vama Veche. The resorts with the biggest increases are Eforie Nord, Olimp, Costinești and Eforie Sud. "Sales in January and February had an increase of more than 30% compared to the previous year, after which there were communications related to the risk of cholera, E. coli in the water, the strike in education, the cost of sunbeds, which negatively impacted sales in the months of March, April, May and June. There were better sales again in July and August, with some reserve after the sudden cooling of the water in the season. Although we had a summer month of September, around the 10th of September most of the hotels closed", emphasizes Lucia Morariu, former president of ANAT and president of Eximtur.
According to Andrei Chirilov, member of the ANAT Board of Directors and general manager of Laguna Tour, "sales for the 2023 summer season started earlier (November – December 2022), in the early booking system. There followed a period of stagnation in bookings (March-April), after which they entered a normal rhythm. The Romanian coastline registered an increase compared to the previous season, but if we refer to the exceptional year in tourism 2019, we are below that year in terms of the number of tourists. There is an increase for the southern Romanian coast but a decrease in the number of tourists for Mamaia and Năvodari".
"Seen as a whole, the 2023 season was a rather complicated one for tourism operators on the coast. We have had periods when our agents could barely cope with the high flow of requests, but also periods of lull, mainly caused by external factors, such as the education strike in June, which tempered the pace of bookings.
However, the local coast did not lack tourists, the most crowded intervals being the end of June and the middle of August. Some of them, generally loyal tourists to this destination, contacted us to book their stay in 2024 right from the moment they finished their vacation this year", says Ionuț Nedea, CEO of Litoralulromanesc.ro, ANAT member.
According to the information provided by Litoralulromanesc.ro, of the total number of reservations, 26% were paid with holiday vouchers. The average length of stay was 4,8 nights. An increasingly obvious trend has been accentuated in recent years: Romanians are very attentive to the quality-price ratio when they want a stay on the Romanian coast. At the same time, they are willing to allocate larger holiday budgets if the tourist package includes other services besides accommodation and meals.
More and more tourists are including access to a private beach or swimming pool, sunbeds as part of the package, leisure options and entertainment options in the list of criteria according to which they choose a seaside accommodation unit.
The most sought after are 3 and 4 star hotels, which have adapted to the demands of tourists and created complex packages. Under these conditions, the degree of tourist satisfaction also increased slightly compared to last season. The main category of tourists who choose the Black Sea resorts as a holiday destination, i.e. 68% of the total, is made up of families.
The next category is representative of couples, 22% of the total. Regarding the classification based on the "age" criterion, 41,9% of the tourists who choose the local coast are aged between 25 and 44, followed by those in the 45-54 age segment, which represent 28% of the total. In third place are the seniors in the 55-64 age category, respectively 12%.
"For us, sales on the Romanian coast were better than in 2022. But they could certainly be even better, if there were no fears at the beginning of June about the contamination of the Black Sea water with viruses from the destruction of the dam in Ukraine, sales it would have maintained a good pace and we would have been talking about more significant growth. We are preparing seriously, as always, for the next season and we have higher goals and expectations", claims Lucian Bădîrcea, general director of IRI Travel, ANAT member.
ANAT believes that the Constanta and Mangalia Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) must become active in promoting the coast. Generally, a strong promotional campaign must be launched.
"Romanian Waters Dobrogea must take quick measures to shred or mince the shells on the beaches. This request was repeated for 2 years. Also, auctions should not be held in May, before the start of the season, but much earlier. On the other hand, Constanța City Hall must solve the parking problem in Mamaia”, declares Alin Burcea, first vice-president of ANAT and president of Paralela 45.
ANAT's conclusions regarding the Romanian Coast, season 2023:
- ► The tourist season on the Romanian coast in 2023 was better than in 2022, but below the level of 2019.
- ► The season started promisingly, but bookings dwindled in July and August.
- ► Prices have increased by 10-20%, but budgets have been constrained due to reduced average length of stay.
- ► Higher-than-official inflation has hurt economic growth.
- ► The temperature of the sea water in August was unusually cold, at 13 degrees Celsius.
- ► Total sales were higher than in 2022, with an average rate increase below 10%.
- ► The number of tourists increased compared to 2022, and the month of June was considerably better than the previous year. The biggest decrease was registered at the end of the season - August-September.
- ► July saw low occupancy due to weak June sales and other external factors.
- ► Among the factors that generated decreases or decreased the dynamics of bookings are the following "events" commented on at the beginning of the season: the teachers' strike, the crisis in Ukraine, cholera, E. coli bacteria, drones, mines or the increase in the price of sunbeds.
- ► Mamaia recorded a slight recovery compared to 2022.
- ► The average value of a reservation was 2500 lei, up 5% compared to the previous year.
- ► Prices have increased by 10-20% compared to the 2022 season.
- ► The most sought after hotels are 3 and 4 star hotels.
- ► Around a quarter of reservations are paid with holiday vouchers.
- ► The average length of stay decreased from 4,9 to 4,7 – 4,8 nights.
- ► Most tourists were represented by families with children, followed by couples.
- ► Despite the increase in sales, the total number of tourists was lower than in 2019.
- ► The concerted attack by a part of the mass media in Romania on the coast and the lack of reaction of the hotel patronages on the coast, as well as the OMDs Mangalia and Constanța, which did not run promotional campaigns, are noteworthy.
- ► The resorts, in order of sales by travel agencies: Mamaia, Eforie Nord, Olimp, Venus, Saturn, Cap Aurora, Jupiter, Neptun, Mangalia, Costinești, Eforie Sud, Techirghiol, Vama Veche. ► The south of the coast registered an increase, the resorts with the biggest increases being Eforie Nord, Olimp, Costinești and Eforie Sud.