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Nelsand Group, an invitation to the real Romania

Article - September 15, 2011
Romania is rich in history and scenic beauty. Relatively unspoilt and undiscovered areas such as Transylvania offer investors significant development potential
Nelsand Group, founded in Transylvania, Romania, runs a number of operations from a catering equipment distribution company to a real estate and tourism business. General manager, Ion Turcu, launched Nelsand Group in 1991, to fulfill the increasing need for technological improvement in the Romanian food industry.

The company imported equipment from Italy, Austria, and Germany, and has grown into a successful distribution firm that now provides clients, ranging from fast-food chains and pizza parlors, hotels and small homesteads, with full-service solutions for their catering and hospitality needs. Services include: high-quality and reliable products, warranty and post-warranty guarantees, IT system maintenance and servicing options.

Spin-offs from the business include a €12.5 million ($18 million) development of luxury villas, Stupinii Noi, in Brasov; and tourism packages that include accommodation within the development which is close to famous Transylvanian landmarks such as Bran Castle – regular haunt of Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

And it seems that Mr. Turcu, whose firm is keen to develop the tourism arm of the business, is on to something. The number of tourists in Romania is growing every year and tourism is becoming an increasingly important source of Romanian GDP. According to Romania’s National Institute of Statistics (INS), foreign tourists who visited Romania in 2010 spent around €886 million, an approximate 20% increase from the €738 million spent in 2009. Around 1.34 million foreign tourists visited Romania in 2010, an increase of 5.5% from 2009, when approximately 1.27 million foreign tourists visited the country.

Visitors for both business (conferences, lectures and exhibitions etc.) and for private purpose (holidays, shopping, cultural and sporting events etc.) accounted for the €886 million spent by foreign tourists. And according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Romania’s tourism industry is expected to grow annually by 6.7% over the 10 years 2009-2018.

The tourist industry provides significant potential for tourism development and investment because Romania is still relatively undiscovered and is a great destination for visitors seeking an authentic travel experience. Romania is rich in history, scenic beauty and wildlife. For example, the Danube Delta, regarded as the world’s third most biologically diverse area – after Australia’s Great Coral Reef and Ecuador’s Galapagos Archipelago – has been recognized by UNESCO for its outstanding universal value. The country is also compact; a journey of just three to four hours, by car or train, can transport visitors from Bucharest, Romania’s capital city, to the Black Sea; or from the medieval towns of Transylvania to the Danube River.

Mr. Turcu is keen to offer visitors a taste of the real Romania. A trip to Brasov, Transylvania on a Nelsand Group tour offers unique opportunities to experience Romanian traditions and Romanian culinary delicacies spend a day in the life of a Romanian family or even attend a typical Romanian wedding.

There is also a chance to discover world-class tourist destinations such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sighisoara - birthplace of Vlad Tepes. At the end of the trip, visitors leave with an impression of the real Romania.

Romania’s entry into the EU in 2007 has seen the Romanian market open up and Mr. Turcu, believes that tourism enterprises such as those developed by Nelsand Group offer great opportunities for U.S. investors. He says: “We are looking for American investors to share their know-how and experience. I believe that Romania could hugely benefit from the American mentality of entrepreneurism. For example, U.S. investors could help develop our residential site, Stupinii Noi, into a tourism development, and benefit from its success as the perfect base for visitors to explore the Transylvania region.

 “Also, regarding the catering equipment business, it would be very interesting to team up with a distribution company in the U.S., as American products are very well regarded by the industry in Romania.”