At the height of the summer tourism season at Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, hoteliers in Varna say tourist numbers are down compared with 2014, with Bourgas reporting an even larger decrease – and with the spa resort town of Sandanski separately saying that the number of Greek tourists had halved in recent months.
In Varna, even though there were expectations of tourists redirecting to the Black Sea after the terrorist attacks in Tunisia, hoteliers were describing the 2015 summer season as “tough and difficult,” according to a July 5 report by public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television (BNT).
Tourist industry expectations were that in Varna, the decrease in tourists and revenue would be about four to five per cent year-on-year by the end of the 2015 season, with the decrease in the number of Russian-speaking tourists even higher, at between 15 and 40 per cent in various resorts.
Tour operator Gesho Lyubenov said that there might have been some offsetting of the trend if at the start of the season there had been successful facilitation for holidaymakers from Belarus with Schengen visas because 70 per cent of them came to Bulgaria by bus and circumvention of Ukrainian territory had prolonged the route, making it more expensive.
He said that the Minsk – Varna train that had come into service did not help because at fares of 220 euro, it was almost as costly as an air ticket.
Bulgaria’s tour operators dismissed as “speculation” the expectations that crises such as those in Greece and Tunisia would bring more tourists to Bulgaria.
In Bourgas, the head of the regional tourism chamber, Ivan Ivanov, said that there was a decrease of 32 to 35 per cent in the number of tourists in June 2015 compared with June 2014. He expected the negative trend to continue in July, local news agency Focus said.
Some days ago, BNT reported that tour operators in the spa resort town of Sandanski in southern Bulgaria said that the number of Greek tourists coming to the town had dropped 50 per cent in recent months.
One tour operator said that the situation was in sharp contrast to five years ago, when in the streets of Sandanski, one heard more Greek than Bulgarian spoken.
(Photo: (c) Clive Leviev-Sawyer)