Bulgaria opens 2012 summer holiday season expecting rise in Russian tourists

Bulgaria’s 2012 summer holiday season was launched on June 9 2012 at the Black Sea resort of Sunny Beach (Slunchev Bryag) with Economy, Energy and Tourism Minister Delyan Dobrev forecasting an overall increase of up to eight per cent in holidaymakers and predicting that the number of Russian visitors would increase by 20 per cent.

Dobrev said that on June 4, Bulgaria’s consular services in Russia had issued the 100 000th visa this year.

On May 31, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said that the Bulgarian consular office in Moscow had issued 6211 visas in a single day, a new record.

“Since the beginning of 2012,Bulgaria’s consular office inMoscowhas issued 87 253 visas, 13 per cent more than in the same period of 2011 and 113 per cent more than in 2009. With the introduction of extended working hours, all applications are processed timeously and accurately,” the Foreign Ministry May 31 statement said.

Elena Ivanova, chairman of the board of the union of owners in Sunny Beach, said that currently occupancy at the resort was about 40 to 50 per cent and this was expected to reach 100 per cent in late June and early July.

On June 9,Sunny Beach AD executive director Zlatko Dimitrov said, “overall, I expect a good tourist season. We are exciting the Russian market, which is good for us and it is significant that last year’s problem with Alma Tour has remained in the background”.

In 2011, debt-laden Alma Tour went under. Large numbers of foreign tourists, mainly Russians, were left stranded atBlack Seaairports when Bulgaria Air refused to fly charters contracted by the now-defunct company. At the time, the extensive media coverage of the Alma Tour debacle sparked concerns that it would have a negative effect on the 2012 season on the Russian market.

Reporting the opening of Bulgaria’s summer season, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television (BNT) enthused that “renovated hotels, clean beaches and good organisation await guests at Sunny Beach”.

More than 250 rooms with a combined capacity of 300 000 beds were on offer at the resort, which was hoping for a strong summer season, the BNT report said.

Some hotels already were filled with tourists and restaurants at Sunny Beach were reported to be doing a brisk trade.

Venues offering live television broadcasts of Euro 2012 football matches were doing especially well, BNT said.

So far this year, there had been an increase in the number of tourists visiting Bulgaria from Scandinavia,Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Close to 200 police officers from elsewhere inBulgariahave been seconded to patrol Sunny Beach.

Golf carts and similar electric-powered vehicles have been banned from the small lanes in the resort to reduce the risk of pedestrians being injured.

Dobrev told journalists that within three weeks, his ministry would submit a new law on tourism to the Cabinet and it was expected that within a month, the draft law would be accepted.

He said that he had convened a meeting, to be held on June 14, with representatives of the tourism industry to discuss the proposed new legislation on tourism.

(Photo: M Dimitrova/sxc.hu






The Sofia Globe staff

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