The sky is the limit: Bulgaria’s tourism and its eternal growth

Written by on April 29, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on The sky is the limit: Bulgaria’s tourism and its eternal growth

Can a tourism market grow eternally? Well, probably not. At the same time, a small south-eastern European country called Bulgaria seems to be proving it can.

The caretaker government’s Minister of Tourism, Stella Baltova, reported a 20 percent increase regarding the number of foreign tourists who came to Bulgaria during the first quarter of 2017. The revenue generated from international tourism grew by 16 percent during that time frame.

This number shows that the Minister’s goal of reaching 9 million foreign tourists this year, compared to 8 million who came to Bulgaria in 2016, might actually be more realistic than some people may have thought. So far, the growth reported in 2017 does not include beach tourists at all, but mainly skiing tourists, culture tourists, who would come to Bulgaria for ballet and opera performances, spa tourists as well as city tourists who explored Sofia, Plovdiv and other cities in Bulgaria, after flying in on budget airlines such as Ryanair, Wizz Air or EasyJet.

Only days before Minister Baltova will have to turn over the Ministry to the new coalition government under Boyko Borissov, she also talked about guarded Black Sea beaches. As of the end of March, there were 103 unguarded beaches along the coast line. Auctions and concessions will change that. The Ministry wants to make use of as many beaches as possible. The beach season will start within a few weeks.

Mrs. Baltova said, the Ministry of Tourism will constantly receive information about the situation at the beaches. This included the security, but also the rental prices for umbrellas and sun loungers. The latter are supposed to decrease this year, in order to keep up the tourist’s satisfaction.

Large tour operators in western Europe, including Thomas Cook, have increased the number of beds they offer in Bulgaria, because they had to. In 2016, more than 20 terror attacks were counted in neighbouring Turkey, which amount to nothing less than a security disaster. The resulting decrease in tourism had to be compensated somehow.

In Bulgaria, the summer weather is just as good. So are many of the beaches. But there are also aspects, which result in headaches: Bulgaria needs more qualified staff in hotels and elsewhere. Also, the Black Sea is dirty, in part because of wastewater, which flows into it directly, in some areas. Experts believe it will not take long until Bulgaria and neighbouring states might have to pay a high price for this problem, which is largely being ignored.

Photo: Minister of Tourism, Stella Baltova. Photo by Ministry of Tourism, Sofia.

 

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Imanuel Marcus, the founder of foreignersandfriends.com, is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe.