“In early 2009, only 44 hostels were available in Romania, spread across the country but with a higher frequency in touristic cities”, Ildiko Matyas, chairman of YHR (Youth Hostel Romania) told Wall-Street.

The value of hostels market stood at roughly 1.2-1.4 million euros last year, with 120,000 nights booked. “Tariffs are roughly similar to those charged abroad. They differ according to the locations, type of rooms and services, ranging from 8-16 euros per night,” said the representative of YHR.

If prices are roughly in line with those charged in developed markets, Romanian hostels are obliged to meet higher standards. “Romanian hostels are due to meet the regulations and standards enforced by the Ministry of Tourism, who releases the authorizations for this activity. These standards are stricter than those imposed by International Youth Hostel Federation in multiple aspects”, said Ildiko Matyas.

Despite the severe regulations, the hostel market can turn into a very profitable business in crisis for those who plan on turning their passion for travelling into a lucrative business. “In current market conditions, some relinquish their travelling plans, while others shift focus to cheaper accommodation solutions. And now, Romanian hostels can only take profit from the second category of travelers,” said YHR manager.

Apart from tourists who leave for a countrywide or European-wide tour, hostels could profit from the business segment, with all companies cutting drastically travelling spending.

“Business tourists have stayed in hostels before but this niche will never be considered the biggest earning driver. In times of crisis, however, companies are willing to make compromises. Furthermore, many hostels in Romania have conference rooms or space adequate to host a conference” Ildiko Matyas added.

The average stay at Romanian hostels is between 1.5-1.8 nights, and the median age of travelers who prefer these locations is 23.