Chisinau as a tourist capital

In Chisinau, travel agencies provided tourism services to 324,300 tourists in January-September 2023, an increase of 13.5% compared to the same period of 2022. The number of tourists accommodated in Chisinau grew by 38.8% on 2022 Most of these tourists visited Chisinau for recreational purposes, while 1.1% arrived for business purposes. The tourists coming to the city are predominantly citizens of neighboring countries, such as Romania and Ukraine. The head of the General Division of Economy, Trade and Tourism Roman Vitiuc was asked about the situation in the field of tourism in Chisinau and the development prospects.

Tourist attractions

The fame of European “green capital” influences visitors’ interest in the parks of the city. However, such traditional attractions as the Triumphal Arch, the Bell Tower in the Cathedral Square and the building of the Chisinau City Hall remain the architectural jewels that are most often admired by the city’s guests. The Tourism Development Strategy worked out in 2022 by the Chisinau City Hall, together with national and foreign experts, proposes to extend the tourist area beyond the central part of the city. “We want to offer tourists the opportunity not only to explore the center of Chisinau, but to also go to the districts of the city and from there to the suburban settlements so as to increase the period of stay of tourists in Chisinau. The greater is the period of time the tourist spends in Chisinau, the larger is the income the local businesses have from the tourist’s stay. Before the strategy was adopted, the period of stay of tourists in Chisinau was about two days. Currently, according to the latest data, we see that the period of stay increased to three-four days on average, which is gratifying,” said the head of the General Division of Economy, Trade and Tourism.

Roman Vitiuc noted that the goal is to make use of the famous tourist attractions that can increase Moldova’s fame, such as the wineries situated close to Chisinau, like Cricova and Mileștii Mici. On  the electronic  platform for the promotion of tourism in Chisinau, these facilities are proposed as sights located at a distance of one hour from the historical city center. Another goal is to realize the potential of the Nistrean Park area in Vadul lui Vodă, which can be a spa attraction.

The tourist map “Chisinau City Map”, distributed free of charge to all interested parties at the Tourist Information Center in Chisinau, allows tourists to orient themselves in the city and find the most important tourist attractions. Roman Vitiuc said that a 3D tourist map that is supported by virtual reality will be launched soon. To use this map, the persons need to install an app on their mobile phone. The user opens the application, places the phone’s camera on the images of this map and can view all the sights that are on the map in 3D format. In addition, the sights will also be accompanied by the description in audio format. On the map there is also a QR code on which a video promoting Chisinau appears upon scanning.

Discover Chisinau

The project to promote culture and tourism in the capital city “Discover Chisinau by Walking” provides signs with a QR code and NFC connection, installed on the signs with street names. By scanning the code, the passerby will discover relevant information about the tourist attractions that can be found in the immediate vicinity. Currently, more than 80 signs are installed on the most important streets in each district of the city. It is a project that continues. The intention is to cover the entire territory of the city with such plates.

The tourist orientation project “You are Here!” includes about 20 brass plates with QR code, which have nearby tourist attractions marked on their surface and are engraved with street names. The scanned QR code directs the visitor on the platform where the historic and cultural sites that are within a radius of 500-1000 meters are described. Roman Vitiuc noted that it was “a rather nonconformist idea”, specifying that, as a rule, all tourist orientation indicators are placed on billboards or large maps on the streets. Thus, it was decided to come up with something innovative and the solution was to incorporate directional indicators directly into the sidewalk, by copying the shape of the pavement and inlaying a plaque that stands out, not visually polluting the city. The project will also have continuity and an initiative has already appeared to install a plaque with all the points “You are Here!” in Chisinau at the airport.

Another project, the Tourist Trolleybus, was launched in 2021 and gradually developed into other municipal projects, such as thematic trips dedicated to famous doctors, famous couples, famous women in Chisinau. About 10,000 passengers have travelled by the tourist trolleybus during these years. Gradually, the flow of tourists decreased as more and more passengers learned the route. So, on April 20, 2024, the second tourist route will be launched, with another itinerary. It will unite in a historical axis the City Hall – the Organ Hall – “Mihai Eminescu” National Theatre – the Central Market – the Railway Station – “Saint Great Martyr Teodor Tiron” Monastery (Ciuflea) – sites on Bucharest St and many others. Moreover, a rebranding was planned this year and the design of the tourist trolleybus will be changed.

Development directions

Wine and gastronomic tourism, business tourism and MICE (meetings, conferences, exhibitions), workation (digital nomads) for people who want to travel and work remotely, medical tourism are the main directions of interest for the municipality. The head of the General Division of Economy, Trade and Tourism, Roman Vitiuc said that wine and gastronomic tourism is the business card of the Republic of Moldova, but many tourists also come to Chisinau for high-quality medical services at affordable prices. The municipality will attract these tourists to give them the opportunity to use other activities in Chisinau as long as they are in the city for medical tourism.

The municipality has developed a business incubator,  which is a place where newly registered enterprises can obtain managerial support, support services and advisory support to increase their chance of growth and duration of survival. Business tourism and MICE (meetings, conferences, exhibitions) include events organized by the City Hall, such as the Chisinau Economic Forum 2022, which was an opportunity for Chisinau to be visited by more businesspeople from abroad. In 2023, one more major event took place – the Urban Social Forum.

According to Roman Vitiuc, the municipality will continue the initiated projects, will take part in tourism fairs staged abroad, will come up with new publications in international magazines. Chisinau was promoted as a tourist destination on the pages of the publication “National Geographic” and another article about Chisinau will be published this spring in a magazine that promotes culinary products.

Milena Macarciuc, IPN

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