Europe's untapped treasure
One of Europe's best kept secrets, Romania is throwing open its doors to Middle East visitors with its tempting array of innumerable - and largely undiscovered - treasures.As part of a concerted campaign this year to attract regional tourists and boost tourism ties with the Middle East, the Romanian tourism ministry is making its debut at the MTF this month. "The new approach started this year with the official visits of Matei Agathon Dan, the Romanian Minister of Tourism, to Egypt and Lebanon, our participation in AWTTE 2002 in Beirut (also for the first time), and the extension of the activities of the Romanian National Tourist Office in Istanbul, Turkey to Middle East countries," said Dan Gaman, the director in the Turkey office. He said that at the MTF, the Romanian delegation which will include top representatives of the General Division of International Promotion from the ministry, will try to meet as many as representatives of travel agencies, tourism organisations as well as professionals. Gaman said the delegation will be looking to encourage mutual tourist traffic; projects for tourist investments; cooperation in tourism training; and exchange of experts for the development of tourist infrastructure, environment protection as well as Mediterranean and Black Sea cruises. "Some leading Romanian travel agencies will join us in the stand and others are invited as hosted buyers," he said. "We are promoting Romania as a complete and safe travel destination. "We also expect to build strong relations with the regional and local travel media, to market our future promotion campaigns and to organise fam trips to Romania for journalists." Gaman said the increased profile in the region will boost the currently "unsatisfactory" inbound traffic figures. He said Romania has much to offer tourists - adventure travel, ecotourism, cultural tours and sport vacations, all in clean and safe environment. Visitors will find fairy-tale castles and opulent palaces, painted monasteries and high-steepled wooden churches, medieval cities and remote villages, a rich folk culture and a vibrant contemporary arts scene. The Romanian landscape, with its haunting natural beauty, has some of Europe's most unspoiled scenery. The towering Carpathian mountains, forming the frontier between the province of Transylvania and the provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia to the east and south, are home to bears, deer and eagles, among other wildlife. The Danube Delta is a vast, watery wilderness and a main stop on one of the world's five major bird migration routes, while the golden beaches of the Black sea coast are replete with seaside resorts and water sports. Gifted by nature with one-third of the natural springs of Europe, thermal lakes, therapeutic muds and mofettes, the Romanian spas are the alternative solution to many diseases. Add to this potent mix of attractions the Romanian people's natural warmth and charm. Romania has direct air access from all Middle East countries, a growing number of professional tour operators and new hotels, restaurants and transportation developments.