Bulgarians were set to spend a total of 150 million leva (about 76.6 million euro) a day during the peak 10 days of the Festive Season spanning Christmas and New Year, according to forecasts reported on December 24.
This spending, at an average rate of six million leva an hour, would mean a turnover of more than 1.5 billion leva over the 10 days, forecasts said.
The estimated sum is significantly higher than the figure announced in early January 2014 for last year’s Festive Season, when the National Revenue Agency said that spending had been only about 66 million leva over 10 days.
The 66 million leva spent over the Festive Season in 2013 went mainly to restaurants, discos and pubs, the revenue agency said at the time.
However, in line with the trend of recent years, many Bulgarians would be spending their 2014 Festive Season budget in the country’s southern neighbour Greece, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio said on December 24.
Most Bulgarian tourists were heading for northern Greece although many also had chosen to holiday on the islands, according to the report. More than 80 per cent of the hotels in northern Greece were full, as holidaymakers took advantage of the fact that hoteliers had not changed their prices and were offering affordable packages for tourists.
Bulgarian National Television said on December 24 that Bulgaria’s winter resort of Bansko and the southern spa town of Sandanski were full.
Most of the tourists in Bansko were from neighbouring and nearby Balkan countries. Hoteliers reported a slight decline in Russian and British tourists but a “massive presence” of tourists from Israel, according to the report.
However, for many Bulgarians, the Festive Season would be hardly that.
Calculations based on official statistics found that half a million Bulgarians would have less than 9.2 leva (about 4.7 euro) for the Christmas and New Year holidays, while a million pensioners would have less than five leva a day in their pockets for the holidays.
Following a government decision, this December pensioners whose pension payment adds up to 286 leva will get a one-off “bonus” of 40 leva.