Bulgaria currently is seeing an increase of about 5.8 per cent in tourists compared to the same period last year and the country’s revenue from tourism has increased by 3.5 per cent, meaning that the tourism industry has grown at twice the pace of projected economic development.
This is according to Deputy Economy and Energy Minister Branimir Botev.
The largest increase was in tourists from Russia, more than 15.5 per cent year-on-year, Botev said. He said that this was calculated on the basis of visas and passport control records, which could be an underestimate because some Russian citizens were admitted to Bulgaria on the basis of Schengen visa zone multiple-entry visas.
Botev said that because of the increase in Russian tourists, closed consulates in Russia would be re-opened or new ones set up to process visa applications. He said that there would be a cutback on intermediary companies handling visa applications for Bulgaria, a visa outsourcing process that Botev alleged meant a “complicated and expensive process”.
Commenting on the controversy around a BBC3 film depicting young British tourists indulging in binge drinking and drunken public sex at the Sunny Beach resort, a documentary which reportedly some in the hospitality industry at the resort intend taking court action over, Botev said that it reflected a section of British tourists, not the resort itself.
He said that Bulgaria had tourists from more than 40 countries and there were no such problems as those depicted in the BBC3 documentary.
The head of the Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association, Blagoi Ragin, said that British youth made up about five per cent of all tourists and were the only ones where there was a problem with alcohol abuse and out-of-control behaviour.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)