Bulgaria expects 5% increase in tourists in 2012 winter season

Bulgaria expects an increase of five per cent in the number of tourists visiting the country in the 2012 winter season, basing this forecast on projections by the tourism ministry and the outcome of tourism fairs in Moscow and London.

Overall, hotel room rates are expected to be much the same as last winter, while the Bulgarian winter tourism industry increasingly is betting on combined packages including meals, ski lift passes and spa treatments.

Current projections for the number of tourists coming to Bulgaria’s winter ski destinations are based on an increase in advance bookings but given that recent years had seen a trend of last-minute bookings, the actual figures could be higher, tourism ministry officials believe.

The official opening of the ski season in three of Bulgaria’s best-known ski resorts, Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo, will be on December 15. Winter resorts are waiting for temperatures to fall below minus four degrees Celsius to begin the production of artificial snow on ski slopes.

Photo: Jeff Osborn

Deputy Tourism Minister Ivo Marinov told local media that this winter, most tourists would be coming from the United Kingdom, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia and Macedonia, as well as Greece, in spite of the economic situation in Bulgaria’s southern neighbour.

Marinov said that in spite of bankruptcies of two tour operators that had a negative impact on some tour groups this past summer, there had been no downturn of Russians booking holidays in Bulgaria, but in contrast, the year was expected to end with an overall 30 per cent increase in the number of Russian tourists. By October, 400 000 visas had been issued to Russians to visit Bulgaria this year, he said.

The number of tourists from Israel, another important market for Bulgaria– and one which saw a short-term downturn in numbers after the July suicide bomber terrorist attack on Israeli tourists at Bourgas Airport– was expected this winter to be similar to that of last year, according to Marinov.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Ministry said on November 20 that it was working on a project to promote Bulgaria as a year-round tourism destination.

The aim of the project is to increase the number of tourists visiting Bulgaria by 30 to 40 per cent over the next 30 years. The advertising strategy is scheduled to be ready by early 2013.

The campaign will be targeted mainly towards luring tourists from Germany, Russia, Romania and the United Kingdom.

(Main photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to sofiaglobe.com's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=32709292