Home Business Bulgaria and Romania join Schengen: experts on what it will mean for prices, transport and overtourism

Bulgaria and Romania join Schengen: experts on what it will mean for prices, transport and overtourism

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The Balkan countries will begin the process of joining the Schengen area on March 31.


March is shaping up to be an exciting month for Romania and Bulgaria.

On March 31, the Balkan countries will begin the process of joining the Schengen area with the lifting of air and sea border controls.

Discussions on lifting land border controls – which would allow the two countries to truly join the Schengen area – are still ongoing.

Even though both countries have been members of the European Union since 2007, they are still required to show their passports when entering other EU countries, unlike many other European citizens.

In 2024, border controls in both countries will be simplified and it is likely that many other aspects will change as well.

There is much speculation about whether Bulgaria and Romania will follow in the footsteps of recently entered Schengen Area Croatia, which has been widely criticized for raising prices across the board since its entry.

Bulgaria and Romania are not expected to convert their current currencies to the euro – as Croatia has done – in the immediate future, but, unsurprisingly, changes will occur almost immediately.

With help from area experts, here’s everything you can expect on March 31.

Will prices soar when Bulgaria and Romania join the Schengen area?

Elaine Warren is a travel expert and founder of The Family Cruise Companion blog.

She hopes that the transition to Schengen The region will not immediately lead to an increase in prices, which could immediately discourage potential tourists.

“Increased competition could counteract any tendency for prices to rise too sharply in the most visited places. With travelers able to easily compare prices across borders, hotels and other businesses will want to remain competitive on rates,” she told Euronews Travel.

It seems, however, that it is too early to say exactly what might happen.

“It is also possible that some costs will gradually become more aligned between Schengen countries. But overall, the combination of effects – more visitors but also fiercer competition – suggests that the impacts on prices will not be obvious. Popular spots could see modest increases, while rural areas and consumer prices face downward pressure,” Warren adds.

Robert Blaszczyk, head of the strategic clients department at global fintech Conotoxia, told Euronews Travel that while potential changes are unclear, there is hope for countries and visitors.

“Join the Schengen the zone has a fairly neutral impact on prices in these countries, especially at the beginning. The slightly positive impact of reducing the time and cost of road transport will not be felt initially,” he says. “In the long term, it tends to be offset by stronger demand, driven by increased visitor numbers. But the impact on tourism is unequivocal.”

What are Bulgaria and Romania doing to attract tourism?

Romania And Bulgaria are still known to be quite “off the beaten track”, little visited by tourists. That doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to offer visitors.

Whether it’s Bucharest’s famous Therme spa, booming party towns along the Black Sea or Bulgaria’s vibrant capital Sofia, there’s plenty to lure travelers east.

Lucia Polla is a travel expert and the founder of the travel blog Viva La Vita.


She is a fan of Romania and Bulgaria and hopes that the creation of the Schengen area will open these countries to a new generation of tourists.

“I can’t wait to see more travelers discover these gems,” she told Euronews Travel. “I anticipate a boom in tourism, which could lead to more competition between travel providers. – and that means even more affordable accommodation and transportation options!

Sustainable travel is a very hot topic at the moment, with tourists increasingly choosing greener means of transport to reach their destinations.

Lucia hopes that Balkan countries will take this into account in their efforts to attract more tourists.

“Visitors will have more freedom to explore at their own pace and use more environmentally friendly options like train and bicycle. This change could foster a greater appreciation of local cultures and responsible tourism practices, benefiting both the environment and the communities we visit,” she says.


The very lack of rigorous border controls without Schengen privileges is known to put off tourists who think it’s not worth it.

That could change – literally overnight – says Michael Donovan, travel expert and co-founder of StayNewEngland.com.

“When I visited Bulgaria in the early 2000s, non-Schengen borders added complexity that deterred some independent travelers. After their expected joining, I think we will see more backpackers and Eurotrip type tourism, especially among young Europeans. These demographics caused local economies to skyrocket elsewhere after Schengen,” he told Euronews Travel.

Romania in particular, Michael says, is “already experiencing a renaissance as a mecca for outdoor culture and adventure. Removing border controls can propel the unique Black Sea coastline and Transylvania region onto a truly global stage.

He – and other experts – have predicted an initial 15 to 25 percent increase in the number of international visitors to the two countries, which will continue to grow over the years.


“In the longer term, full integration will likely also raise standards within tourism infrastructure to enable higher volumes to be accommodated. Overall, this is an exciting milestone for the region which I believe will profoundly increase its importance on the international travel map in the years to come,” adds Michael.

Could Romania and Bulgaria be victims of overtourism?

If it is clear that the entry of the two nations into the Schengen While the region will increase tourism and strengthen its respective economies, there are fears that overtourism – so common in Europe – will soon become a problem.

Ritesh Raj, COO and CPO of CuddlyNest, an accommodation booking platform, believes that “inclusion in the Schengen area could lead to excess tourism in popular destinations in Romania and Bulgaria.”

In popular tourist destinations like Venice, Barcelona and Malaga, locals have responded after years of disrespectful behavior from visitors.

Ritesh fears that over time, Bulgaria and Romania could experience a similar trend.


“(Their new popularity) could lead to higher prices for accommodation, local goods and services, as increased demand often drives up costs,” he told Euronews Travel.

However, this is not inevitable, he says.

“(Increased tourism) could also stimulate destination diversification. Increased accessibility could lead to the exploration of off-the-beaten-path places, thereby spreading the benefits of tourism more equitably across the country, a trend that could lead to more sustainable and inclusive growth in the tourism sector.

Ritesh suggests that the balance between tourism growth and the absence of negative consequences depends on the countries’ authorities, saying that success “will largely depend on how Romania and Bulgaria manage their tourism policies and infrastructure in the face of the increase in the number of visitors.

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