Bulgaria welcomes double-digit increase in foreign tourists


Foreign tourists in Bulgaria have increased by over 18 percent in the first 9 months of the year. This was announced by the chair of the state agency on tourism Anelia Krushkova recently at press conference, according to Bulgaria National Radio (BNR).

Krushkova pointed out that the forecast by the end of the year is 20 percent increase over last year’s figure, and that the increase of income from tourism for the eight months is nearly 13 percent.

EU citizens, who visited Bulgaria, increased about 16 percent, with the number of tourists from Romania, Greece and Germany, Great Britain, Russia, Macedonia and Serbia seeing the most increase.

Bulgarian State Tourist Agency receives an annual budget of six million leva (US$3.8 million), which is not nearly enough to advertise what the country has to offer on the international market. At the news conference, professionals requested the budget for 2009 to be increased to 20 million leva (US$12.9).

Vetko Arabadjiev from the Union of Investors in tourism said that the industry should focus on winning back – through special offers – the thousands of Bulgarian tourists who prefer to holiday in Turkey and Greece. He believes that the financial crisis would not affect the type of tourists that come to Bulgaria – usually families or individuals who would only have funds for one holiday a year.

Arabadjiev suggested that Bulgaria should be promoted more aggressively abroad as a cheap destination with a good quality of service. Also, that Bulgaria needs to secure preferential airplane tickets on charters servicing Varna and Bourgas airports. Arabadjiev wished that the government would create favorable conditions for the development of infrastructural projects.

Petya Slavova from the Union of Bulgarian Tourism Industry (UBTI) said that UBTI intends to meet archaeologists, historians, musicians and diplomats to probe their personal experience of how best to enhance Bulgaria’s image abroad. In the row of planned meetings, Slavova also mentioned future talks with Italian, Turkish or Croatian ministers who could provide lessons on how to develop a successful tourist industry.