Romania becomes an ETC member

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NEW YORK -- Romania joined the 30-member Brussels-based European Travel Commission (ETC) and will participate in the commission's North American activities, which are run from New York.

Simion Alb, director of the Romanian National Tourist Office in New York, said Romania was aiming for several years to join the marketing organization and take part in its promotional efforts in the U.S., but until now the office was not allocated the funds needed to become an ETC member.

"ETC membership not only will enhance Romania's visibility generally ... but also will cement its acceptance by tour operators and travel planners ...," according to Alb.

Romania's U.S. traffic has risen from 18,000 in 1990, following the demise of the country's communist regime, to 71,500 in 1999.

Nonstop air service on Tarom to the Romanian capital of Bucharest is available from New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Boston.

Visas are not required for U.S. visitors who stay in Romania for fewer than 30 days.

As a tourist destination, Romania is famous for being the home of the fictional character Dracula, who is based on a real Romanian, Vlad the Impaler. The 15th century prince resided in Transylvania, where Dracula tours that include the prince's castle are one of the country's best-known tourist draws.

The painted Orthodox churches of Romania's Bucovina province are not as well known in the U.S. but are considered by many to be among the most beautiful monasteries in the world.

Romania is following in the footsteps of several other former eastern bloc countries that joined the ETC during the past decade.

Hungary joined in 1990, followed by Slovenia and Bulgaria in 1993; Poland in 1994; the Czech Republic in 1995; Croatia in 1997, and Estonia in 1998.

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