Romanian travel agents, haulers support waiving border checks between Romania, Bulgaria

The National Association of Romanian Travel Agencies (ANAT) and the Federation of Romanian Haulers (FORT) support waiving border checks between Romania and Bulgaria, according to a joint statement released on Monday.

The two organisations indicate that Bulgaria has ranked, for many years, among the top three tourist destinations for Romanians. In 2019, a reference year for international tourism, Bulgaria reported 2.1 million visitors from Romania! In less than two months of this year (June 1 – July 25), out of about 800,000 foreign tourists at Bulgaria’s tourist accommodation establishments, 260,000 were Romanians and the overwhelming majority of them travel by coaches and cars, with over half of them using the border point Giurgiu – Ruse.

“If we add about other hundreds of thousands of Romanians who transit through Bulgaria annually to the other destinations in the top three ranking – Greece and Turkey – if we also add the hundreds of freight trains, lorries queuing for miles in both directions (and they are driven by people, who are sometimes humiliated for dozens of hours after which, obviously, they also have payments to make), we have every reason to say that the ‘Friendship Bridge’ and the area around it is the disgrace of united Europe, the place where no one wants to be, but that you cannot avoid being at least twice a year,” say the ANAT and FORT leaders.

They say that at the same time the number of Bulgarian and Greek tourists visiting Romania is constantly increasing, many of them still coming by road.

ANAT Chairman Dumitru Luca proposes abolishing the “useless” border, thus proving that we are fully prepared to enter the Schengen area.

“Europe, which wanted us as a market and a source of cheap labour, does not want us as part of the mobility without restrictions area. Under various pretexts, for at least 10 years, Romania and Bulgaria have been denied access to the Schengen area. But… what prevents us from making a local ‘Schengenevescu’, abolishing the useless border between us and thus proving that we are fully prepared to enter their Schengen?” said Luca.

Among the problems encountered at the border points, the press release mentions: tens of minutes or hours spent in the queue, which means additional fuel consumption and wear and tear, pollution in the atmosphere and in nature, tonnes of garbage around that no one collects anymore; considerable increases in costs (fuel, driver salaries and per diems) for haulers, which, in the end, are reflected in the prices of all transported products, etc.

FORT Chairman Augustin Hagiu says that had Romania managed to enter the Schengen Area, the turnover of road haulers would have increased by at least 5 percent.

“Regardless of whether we enter the Schengen Area or not, we have been humiliated. We are experiencing a failure at the moment. (…) Had we succeeded in entering the Schengen Area, the turnover of road haulers would have increased by at least 5 percent,” said Hagiu.

ANAT and FORT also request “the elimination of sources of corruption and huge delays in the payment of the bridge toll” on both banks, by introducing a pre-paid systems.