Peace Corps Writers
Romania Themepark Mania (page 2)
A Volunteer's life in Romania
page 1
page 2

     The Tourism department’s promotion of this myth reminds me of when I was a reporter in Kansas in the early 1990s and developers wanted to build a “Wizard of Oz” theme park. Kansans get tired of the Dorothy and Toto jokes, and it made sense to try to turn the story into something profitable for the state, which has little else to draw tourists. Here in Romania, a poor country with high unemployment, tourism is increasing slowly but has a long way to go. The country has much to offer but suffers from major infrastructure problems and a downtrodden image. The government’s rationale is, hey, Dracula is known throughout the world and associated with Transylvania, so let’s get a piece of the profits. Although purists were delighted with the project’s relocation, Sighisoara locals were hugely disappointed, as thousands of the area’s unemployed were salivating over jobs at the park or the ripple effect of tourism spending.
     After the Sighisoara debacle, the government hired PricewaterhouseCoopers in London to conduct a feasibility study. The firm concluded that Romania could indeed benefit from the theme park, but needs more than $30 million to build it. Romanian media, which have followed this step-by-step, report that Coca-Cola and a major beer company already have sponsorship deals. The park’s size is undetermined but estimated at about 40 to 100 hectares, or about 100 to 250 acres, and plans call for a castle, lake, rides and lots of spooky Dracula stuff. Construction is slated to begin later this year with the first phase open in 2004. The government continues to solicit investors and dream of Dracula dollars.
     I’ve heard about expensive, packaged “Dracula” tours from the United States and other parts of Europe, luring Vampire junkies and other gullible tourists who don’t know — or don’t care about — the real story of Transylvania. Thousands flock to Sighisoara and Bran Castle every year, despite a bogus Dracula connection. Now, Dracula Park could complete the picture.
     Having visited Sighisoara, I’m glad the proposed park was moved. I have not been to Snagov but the more-accessible location near Bucharest probably will draw more visitors and is less controversial. No matter how cheesy, Dracula Park is an opportunity. Let’s face it, Romania needs the money, people need jobs.
     Carpe diem, Romania!

Before joining the Peace Corps, Andy Trincia was a corporate communications executive in the financial services industry. Sworn in on August 16, 2002, he is working at the West University of Timisoara, as a business consultant for the Center for Career Development, and is also teaching courses. We have asked Andy to file reports for his two years of service of what his life is like working and living in Romania. Next month, Andy has his mid-service conference. He will finish his Peace Corps tour at the end of July next year.
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