A passionate ambassador of Romanian tourism in the world, Iulia Falcutescu transformed The Traveling Tulip, a travel blog, into a beautiful domestic travel agency. She says of herself that she is a person who likes to soak up the magic in the air. She prefers to always see the positive side of life and enjoy all the things, whether small or large, that come her way. She likes to laugh and surround herself with people who share her passion for travel, coffee and wine.
*What professional and personal moment were you in when you decided to start on your own?
The Traveling Tulip was initially a travel blog. My mother and sister kept complaining that I never had time to tell them what I had visited and explored. So, I started writing about my travels abroad, but also in the country. Then, I kept talking about the Romanian wonders with my foreign friends, who became the first “clients” and came to Romania to see with their own eyes why I keep boasting so much about my country. Without realizing it, I became an accredited tour guide and everyone around me started asking me to organize various trips and tours or for advice on what they could see and experience in Romania.
Slowly, I surrounded myself with beautiful people, who believed in my dream of sharing beautiful Romania with the world and so, a travel blog became a tour-operating travel agency.
I must admit that I did not have a plan to create a travel agency and I did not want, in particular, to give up my job in a “corporation” (I am still employed full-time at a company that conducts clinical trials). Even if, sometimes, I am overwhelmed by all the responsibilities I have with the job, the management of the agency or with “presenting” Romania, I would not change a thing. We have a country with a huge potential, and it is worth it!
*How did envision your business?
The Traveling Tulip is about exploration and explorers. We want to show travelers the places, known or less known, frequented by locals. We want to make those who choose to travel with us share the same emotions as us, when we discover new places, beautiful people and unforgettable experiences. We choose to organize events and tours with small groups, so that the Romanian experience is lived at a maximum intensity.
*What were the main challenges before Covid-19 and how did you overcome them? What do you do differently from others?
The main pre-Covid-19 challenge was us striving to “teach” our customers what our tours are like. Foreign travelers are used to being taken by bus, to be shown two or three locations and to be explained a bit about what they’re seeing. It’s different with us. We involve them in everything we do, we urge them to share with us their opinions and what else they know about Romania and, simply, to enjoy everything they see and feel. The story behind a journey and the emotions in front are the ingredients we use to always spice up the experiences we have together.
*How did you go through the Covid-19 period in terms of maintaining motivation, finding solutions, given the impact of the pandemic on tourism?
I must admit that, during this period, the fact that I still had a job (financially speaking) helped me a lot. During this time, the main activities for The Traveling Tulip were related to brand awareness – to grow our community around the brand, to have “virtual meetings” with Romania, to ask for our community’s opinion and to build together unique future experiences. I am constantly documenting on what we could offer in addition to our travelers, while adapting the tours to current requirements.
*What business adjustments have you made?
If our main audience so far were foreigner travelers, during this period we reoriented ourselves towards Romanian travelers, people eager to find out more about Romania.
*What will tourism in Romania look like this summer and what was it like in the pre-Covid season?
Before COVID, the number of foreigners who chose to spend their holidays in our country had already increased. Unfortunately, this summer, mainly due to traffic restrictions, their number has dropped dramatically. We hope that in the coming months the traffic restrictions will be more relaxed and allow foreigners access to the country.
*What about the demand from foreign travelers? How has it changed, what are their preferences this year, what countries do they come from?
In previous years, we have had tourists from all over the world – Europe, Latin America, Asia or North America, even from Africa. Due to the current situation, in Bucharest at least, we can now see only foreigners who live or work in Romania and who want to find out more information about the country in which they live.
*How can an agency like The Traveling Tulip support us to have a special holiday, one that makes a difference?
Tourism is not a fad, but the art of traveling and the chance to explore, experience, discover and find out new things. This way you can enjoy and enrich yourself with lesser known people, places, culture and landscapes. It’s about history and education, about who we are, what we believe in and where we are going. It’s like a land where explorers operate. That’s what The Traveling Tulip is about.
We are passionate about our home, deeply dedicated to Romania and we offer unique and memorable experiences that enrich your soul. We show you Romania as we know it. A country that still keeps its traditions and where people know how to combine them with the new. A country that has a huge potential and many experiences to offer – history, tradition, wonderful people, exceptional gastronomic delights with intelligent and empathetic guides.
*What are your main recommendations for those who want to have a beautiful and safe holiday in Romania?
The desire to go on vacation has been in the air for some time and if we are careful, it can be very successful. For this I recommend the travelers to choose an area that has not been very affected by COVID-19 and that has hospitals nearby. Choose carefully the place where you stay and make sure that the specific hygiene protocols have been implemented. Enjoy what nature has to offer and visit everything you can in the chosen area. Experiment and explore, while taking care of hygiene measures and social distance.
Bucovina and Maramures are my favorite regions in Romania. In addition to the invigorating energy transmitted by the people and traditions here, the areas offer unique and special locations, some included in the UNESCO heritage.
*What are your holiday plans?
This year, all my holiday plans include Romania and I will set out to visit places I haven’t been to in a long time, but also to discover new locations, around which to build unforgettable tours and experiences.
*What can you tell me about the RePatriot Tourism project – your role there, what it aims to do, what projects do you have?
RePatriot Turism is a very important initiative, which aims to promote Romania as a tourist destination and increase tourism with the help of Romanians everywhere. We want to contribute to the growth and activation of Romanians abroad, by developing a national and international project, through which to create a network of travel agencies with Romanian ownership and tourism specialists from abroad, to promote Romania.
I joined the initiative somehow naturally, because we are already doing this through The Traveling Tulip. We have on repatriot.ro three examples of packages and tourist experiences in Romania that Romanians living abroad can promote to foreign friends. In the meantime, we will continue to promote our country and adapt easily to the current situation.
*Regarding the promotion of Romania as a tourist destination – what types of messages does the international market respond best to, what did you notice? What about the Romanians?
Travelers from abroad want to find out as much as possible about those places that still preserve the ancestral energy and traditions. They want authentic experiences, good food and local drinks, to live as much as possible as a local.
As for the Romanian travelers, the situation is a little different. We, the Romanians, are already accustomed to everything related to village life and we know most of our history. But Romanians want to relive childhood memories, to remember areas of Bucharest, about which they knew at one time many things, which they forgot over time or to do a few things with their own hands.
*If you were to ask yourself a question, what would it be? How would you respond?
These days, the question I keep asking myself was “What would you do differently?”. And the answer is “Nothing”. Given the changes we have all had to make in order to adapt to the global situation, the message I want to convey to those who choose to spend their holidays with us is that we remain the same: We continue to offer the same unique experiences!