Hotel Intercontinental in Bucharest: competitive advantage for the socialist tourist industry in Romania

Hotel Intercontinental Bucuresti

Hotel Intercontinental in Bucharest

In August 2014, Routledge published Competition in Socialist Society, a book of essays edited by Katalin Miklóssy and Melanie Ilic. The book explores how the concept of competition, which is usually associated with market economies, operated under state socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, where the socialist system, based on command economic planning and state-centred control over society, was supposed to emphasise co-operation, rather than competitive mechanisms.

My own chapter examined the case study of the Intercontinental Hotel (IH) in Bucharest. Using inedited sources from the Romanian archives of the Romanian Communist Party and interviews with influential people (such as Romeo Ştefan Belea, Eugen Cosmatu and George Opriş) directly involved at that time in the process of hotel building and hotel operating, my article, for the first time in historiography, analysed the case of the IH in Bucharest in terms of competition. It addressed the question of why the Romanian authorities accepted in the late 1960s the American proposal of building an Intercontinental Hotel in Romania; it examined the way in which the Western model of the IH was corrupted by the practices of the socialist society; and provided explanations as to why the IH had little influence on the improvement of the Romanian tourism industry in general.

Photo: Online communism photo collection

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