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Coming soon: Ceauşescu tours! 22/10/2011

Posted by allthingsro in places, translations, travel, Uncategorized.
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Romanian Tourism Minister Elena Udrea proposes to organise tours of the country’s communist past. These tours – which couldn’t be offered anywhere else in the world  – could be a hit. So says Ştefan Liuţe, co-founder and strategy director at Grapefruit, one of the largest branding agencies in Romania.

Scorniceşti, the former dictator’s birthplace; the balcony of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party where Ceauşescu gave his last speech; Doftana Prison where he was incarcerated in the 1930s; and the barracks at Târgovişte where he was shot. These are just some of the destinations that Elena Udrea, Minister of Regional Development and Tourism, wants to include in the Ceauşescu tour.

“It’s a very good idea because foreigners are immensely interested in Nicolae Ceauşescu  – not so much in communism. If they are well organised, these types of tour will be a success. And because they are unique, they can’t be reproduced anywhere else in the world. It’s only natural for us to assume our country’s history and its famous figures. It would have to be done without becoming kitsch or derisory. I would include Ceauşescu’s uniqueness and notoriety among the advantages. We wouldn’t have to invest a single cent to make the dictator famous. The main disadvantage is the risk of forming or strengthening some of negative associations Romania has, such as poverty, pessimism and being “uncultured” in general,” explains Ştefan Liuţe.

The branding expert would promote the unusual aspects of the life and personality of the former dictator, combining these with details on his private and public life.

“In general, I would present a nuanced image with contrasting elements. At heart, this is also the truth. And I would go from Bucharest to Scorniceşti or Doftana Prison, passing, of course, through the huge neighbourhoods made up of blocks, but I’d also take the Transfăgărăşan, the spectacular road through the Carpathian Mountains built under Ceauşescu, and visit the Danube-Black Sea Canal,” said Grapefruit’s strategy director.

“For many foreign tourists, Romania is the land of two legendary tyrants: Dracula and Ceauşescu,” said Liuţe. “It is a stereotype, but if it already exists, why shouldn’t we exploit it? The mistake would be to limit ourselves solely to Ceauşescu and not to take other steps to improve foreigners’ perceptions of our country.”

Grapefruit was founded in 2000 and turned over €0.7mn in 2009, according to the most recent data from the Romanian Finance Ministry. To date, the branding agency has worked with more than 200 clients, including the bank Banca Transilvania, Dacia, E.ON, chocolate company Heidi, Pepsi Americas, Petrom and Renault.

Tweet your interest in Ceauşescu tours to @eUdrea!

An extended version of this article by Cristina Negraru appeared in Wall-Street on 22nd August 2011. Translation by Daisy Waites.

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