Foreign tourists come and look in Moldova for what they don’t have at home

The following article was written by Natalia Munteanu, and published by Moldnova on 21 July 2017, and translated in English by Marc Pilkington

The Republic of Moldova does not enjoy a touristic reputation, and foreign tourists come here mostly out of curiosity. However, those who choose to visit our country are attracted by gastronomy, wine cellars, people and rural life. Foreigners see Moldova as a destination where natural traditions and landscapes are preserved. Even if they get to the threshold of our country with mistrust, especially due to a lack of information and infrastructure, after leaving here, about 70% of them state that they were satisfied with the tourism services provided by Moldovans. The high level of satisfaction is due to Moldovans who meet the expectations of foreign tourists well. “On top of what people prefer, we find our people, hospitality, authenticity, landscapes, wine cellars and cuisine. People and hospitality like in Moldova cannot be found anywhere else. We meet the expectations of tourists. We are not ready for infrastructures” says Eugen Boico, the director of an advertising agency in Chisinau, who has designed the country brand” Tree of Life “.
Birds on Lake Beleu. PHOTO: Roman Friptuleac
How do we sell tourism services?

Most tourism entrepreneurs and local authorities do not know how to promote, how to communicate the product they want to sell, which is why more than 30% of tourists come to our country upon the invitation of friends or of Moldovans settled abroad. Foreign tourists claim they have no access to information about Moldova in their mother tongue and language. The findings were presented at the Incoming Travel Forum, devoted to tourism in the Republic of Moldova.

The image of a touristic destination is very important, because the choice of tourists is a soulful one. The dishes prepared at home, according to traditional recipes, wine preserved in the barrel, the natural taste and the aroma of vegetables and fruit grown in Moldova are other reasons why tourists choose to visit our country. “The natural reserves in the Lower Prut area, the Nistru River in Soroca or Stefan Voda should be promoted. Costesti-Stânca village is not valued. Moldovans’ lifestyle is interesting for tourists because they want to see how they work in our country. They are impressed by the cellars near the house full of canned food, pickles and wine. Lately, museums have been renovated in order to be promoted. The Art Museum in Chisinau must be visited at any rate, “says Anatolie Poita, consultant in wine tourism. Even if Moldovans are highlighted for boasting Orthodox monasteries, the expert mentions that the Orthodox church is not a reason for travelling for European tourists. “They have more ancient and more beautiful monasteries and churches at home. The cave monastery is of interest to them, but if we feed them with too many churches, a feeling of saturation appears, “says Anatolie Poita.

Tourism Forum in Chisinau. July 20, 2017 PHOTO: Marcel Albu
Promotion by recommendation
The most effective way to promote is through live talk – when the tourist is impressed and recommends what he has seen to friends. “Tourists have to find all the time more than what they were promised. The most effective way is word-to-mouth communication. A German man was amazed at what he saw at Butuceni and told his friends. That provides images. Capricious guests can spur intelligent hosts. Over 50% of our tourists are foreigners. We need to take care of garbage, signs and infrastructure. Foreigners forgive us for having no signs, but that’s not good. They have to work with the local population because they are part of this ethno-cultural circuit, “says Anatol Botnaru, an entrepreneur from Orheiul Vechi.
Integration with Romanian tourism

Integration of Moldovan tourism into the tourism market in Romania, an opportunity discussed within the Forum, aims at developing local offers and attracting new foreign tourists. The manager of the Saint Parascheva Pilgrimage Center in Iasi, Romania, Costel Damian talked about the benefits of joint tourism and what sells better. “You have the authentic country and established brands such as Joy, Cricova – we can combine them because the tourists want to buy. You have the ethnic Gagauz, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish folklore. You create legends, stories sell very well. We can combine our mountains with the Moldavian plateau. Sell ​​sports competitions with healthy dishes “, these were some tips offered by Damian to the Forum of Tourism, organized by the National Association for Inward Tourism from Moldova (ANTRIM).

During the event, Alexandru Filipschi spoke about the lack of tourist packages that makes the integration with Romania more complicated. “We do not have domestic tourism offers. We do not have products that can be freely served to tourists. Tour operators have no packages for Moldova. If you want to come to Moldova you have to ask the travel agency for information by e-mail. An online system has to be created, so agencies can sell the product and integrate them with those in Romania. We get joint packages, “said the President of the Federation of Tourism Promotion in Moldova. In reply, Anatol Poita told him that this would be the ideal option, but for now it is important to focus on the knowledge and development of the tourist objectives. “We cannot integrate what we do not know. You can not sell a product you do not know. It takes organized trips, visits, joint projects, etc., concluded Poita.Attending the Forum, the director of the Moldovan Tourism Agency, Stanislav Rusu agrees that tourism can help develop the economy of our country, but it is not fully exploited. “Through tourism we can have many benefits because it brings money flows, creates jobs, stops migration, etc.” The government is going to invest in infrastructure, “Rusu said.
In 2015, nearly 3 million foreign tourists arrived in Moldova, and in 2016 their number increased to 3.4 million people. Stanislav Rusu hopes that in 2017 their number will reach 4 million.

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