That’s Romanian for ‘hi’ :)
Welcome to Romanian Friend! I’m Marius, the guy with the vision behind everything you see on this website. I gave up a career as an international business lawyer to start this project and give something back to my country while doing something I'm (far more) passionate about: travel and helping others. You can check my Instagram or LinkedIn to see that I'm a real person, just in case you're curious :)
Here's the the short version:
Romanian Friend was created in April 2017 and I like to think of it as a community-based social enterprise project. Technically, it’s just an online marketplace with handpicked tours and guides that you can book online. The website also has lots of info about Romania (attractions, travel tips, our suggestions, etc) to help independent travellers visit my beautiful country.
How I think of Romanian Friend is this: imagine you had a trusted, local friend from Romania that you would tell: I want to visit your country - tell me everything! Where should I go, what to see and do, what to eat and not miss? So I started this website based on my personal experience during my frequent travels around the world and time spent as an expat, because I've been asked this question SO MANY times and finally decided to do something about it.
Tourism in Romania has many problems: low tourist numbers (2,7 million in 2016 country-wide compared to 17 million in Amsterdam!!) a severe lack of government support, poor and outdated marketing, lack of awareness for representative local communities and attractions (other than Dracula), underdeveloped infrastructure (city info points, maps, English boards, etc), a fragmented inbound tourism market with lots of individual guides acting on their own with little online visibility, and the list can go on endlessly.
Since I'm proud of my Romanian roots and know the good - and less good - parts of my country, I founded Romanian Friend to help independent travellers out there discover the beauty of Romania as if they had help from a local friend!
With Romanian Friend I created a network of handpicked, independent local guides and small businesses all over the country which offer authentic, off the beaten path trips and truly local travel experiences in Romania. All guides and tours are selected and reviewed by me and my team, because we want to help tourists have a great time in our country by promoting the right local people with great services, extensive knowledge and real passion for what they do -- have a look at how Romanian Friend works.
At the same time, Romanian Friend's mission is to support responsible tourism which benefits local communities and helps them preserve their culture and way of life. No one else in Romania does this through tourism, so they need our support. We like local travel and we know this is the best way to experience a new culture. We also know that by visiting Romania this way you will have a wonderful experience that will quickly become one of your favourite travel memories.
If you trust the choices we made, you save precious time, energy and uncertainty because you don't have to look for guides and tour suggestions on 10+ websites, contact them individually to ask for details and availability (because none have a booking system) and make a decision you're not sure of. Romanian Friend is a marketplace with 80+ tours and 25+ guide-partners all over the country -- everything you need in one place! Second, we make sure you get a great deal and value for money on your tour because we know the real costs of being a tourist in Romania and review tour prices so they are fair for everyone. Third, you get a personal reward, through local travel that helps local communities - just book a tour with us and you'll see for yourself how!
Finally, you get our friendly, personal and helpful advice with whatever Romania-related questions you may have, as well as quick and instant support with your bookings.
Meeting the locals, seeing our famous countryside (hello Transylvania!), hiking our wild Carpathian Mountains, enjoying meals with locals over a glass of palinca or learning UNESCO handcrafts hundreds of years old - that's what your Romanian Friend recommends you do if you visit our country!
So that's what your Romanian Friend is ‘about’ - helping you discover and have a great time in our beautiful Romania while making a difference for the local people and communities you visit.
We invite you to explore our website - you'll find lots of info on attractions and regions to help plan your trip, inspiration and travel tips. Local stories and insights from all over the country and major cities. And get help from us if there's anything you can't find!
Thanks for reading, sorry I couldn’t keep it shorter, a writer-lawyer habit :)
p.s. did you know that the U.N. declared 2017 the year of sustainable tourism? :)