Do you think fiction needs romance to be compelling?
Short answer: No.
Longer answer: There isn't anything wrong with having romance in a story, but not every story needs to have romance in it to be compelling. There are plenty of stories out there that have absolutely no romance at all, and they're still amazing. Also, the problem isn't so much the romance angle, it's more of the inherent expectation of needing it along with the mishandling of it in the writing. From forcing a romance just for the sake of it to fill that particular quota to reducing it to tired and antiquated stereotypes, none of this is interesting or compelling. Now, yes, this is all subjective because what one person doesn't find compelling another person will, but in the overall spectrum of romance in fiction there is a common pattern. This is mostly an issue with heteronormative examples, but this can also be seen in LGBT romances as well. I also feel like, because fandom and the concept of shipping have become more mainstream these days, many creators think that there needs to be "ship teases" to purposefully bait and string fans along so they stay with that story, and honestly I don't like that, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
There's also this kind of obsession that every character needs to have a romantic partner, when that's not even true in reality. There needs to be more representation of those who aren't that interested in being with someone romantically, and who won't miraculously get their minds changed at the end of the story itself. There needs to be more stories that focus on the companionship of another without it ending in a romantic or sexual nature.
Bottom line, there is nothing wrong with having romance in a story, but when it's written in have it make sense in context of the narrative and the arcs of the characters. Don't just have it in order to check a box of some sort. Not every story needs a romance to be compelling, and not every character needs to be in a romantic relationship in order for them or their journey to be fulfilled.