Bulgaria’s tourism: The ‘super season’ is on its way

Written by on June 23, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgaria’s tourism: The ‘super season’ is on its way

When it comes to finding encouraging words about the summer season, which has just begun, Bulgarian politicians are surpassing each other with optimistic statements. In Sofia, Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov, one of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s ultra-nationalist coalition buddies, said “A safe is opening right in front of us”. He is right.

What he meant: Tourism in Bulgaria is exploding, yet again. Last year, someone should have called the Guiness Book of World Records, when a total of 8.2 million tourists from abroad invaded this small Balkan country. They left a lot of money. And they will again, this year.

In Bulgaria’s main tourist resorts, more and more tourists are arriving right now, from Romania, Germany, Britain and Russia. They want the sand, the salty water and all the action. And when they are done staring at their smart phones at the beach, they are hungry. Once they filled their stomachs, they want to party. All of that costs money. Money, which contributes 13 percent to Bulgaria’s economic output.

The Minister of Tourism, Nikolina Angelkova, knows why all of those people are choosing her country: “Bulgarian resorts are safe and preferred destinations.” Very true. Terror fears in places like Turkey and Egypt have contributed to the growth last year. And they will again now.

But Minister Angelkova wants to be safe rather than sorry, which is why the government is implementing safety measures. Police officers will be spread all along the coast during this season. Also, the authorities will teach hotel staff about spotting danger and keeping things safe.

This year, Nikolina Angelkova wants to exceed the strong 2016 numbers. She will. A growth of 10 percent is what she is expecting. That would mean almost 9 million foreign tourists, who will have set foot on Bulgarian soil when this year is over. It does not matter whether they walked the beach of Sozopol, Plovdiv’s old town, Sofia’s Vitosha Boulevard or the skiing slopes in Bansko.

Sure, there are issues. The government tried to mitigate one of them, which is the lack of experienced staff at touristic facilities. Bulgaria even changed immigration laws, in order to help businesses employ people from Moldova or Ukraine. They are needed, since many Bulgarians in the tourism industry have become sick and tired of low Bulgarian wages. They would rather work for real money, in Spain, Germany or elsewhere.

But other problems, such as the rather bad state of the Black Sea, are largely being swept under the carpet. This issue concerns a total of six countries, including Bulgaria, but it is high time they start becoming active.

Anyway: More and more tourists are taking their little shovels, plastic buckets and towels to Bulgarian beaches. More hikers are enjoying the tick-infested meadows on Bulgarian mountains. And more city tourists are staring at sightseeing objects in Sofia.

How many tourists might show up in 2018? It will be yet another “super season”. The sky is the limit.

 

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About the Author

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