Bulgaria was among three EU countries with the largest decreases in tourism in 2015, measured by the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, according to estimated figures released on January 26 2016 by EU statistics agency Eurostat.
In contrast, in 2015 the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments in the EU is expected to have reached a new record level of about 2.8 billion nights, up by 3.2 per cent compared with 2014. The Eurostat figures do not distinguish between nights spent for tourism and for business.
Since 2009, there has been a steady increase in the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments in the EU, notably driven by the rise in the nights spent by non-residents, Eurostat said.
In 2015, Spain (421 million nights, up by 4.3 per cent compared with 2014) reinforced its top position in terms of tourism nights, ahead of France (413 million, an increase of 2.8 per cent), Italy (385 million, 1.8 per cent) and Germany (379 million, +3.3 per cent).
The number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments in 2015 grew in the majority of EU countries for which data are available, with the largest increases being observed in Romania (15.9 per cent), Slovakia (11.5 per cent), the Czech Republic (10.3 per cent), Croatia (7.9 per cent), Slovenia (7.5 per cent) and Poland (6.9 per cent).
In contrast, the largest fall was recorded in Lithuania (-7.4 per cent), followed at a distance by Latvia (-1.3 per cent) and Bulgaria (-1.1 per cent).
After the two Mediterranean island EU member states, Malta (96 per cent) and Cyprus (94 per cent), the highest shares of nights spent by non-residents in 2015 were registered in Croatia (92 per cent), Greece (79 per cent) and Austria (71 per cent), while residents made up the largest part of total tourism nights spent notably in Poland and Romania (both with only 19 per cent of tourism nights by non-residents), Germany (21 per cent) and Sweden (25 per cent).
In Bulgaria, the share of nights spent by non-residents was 62 per cent. A comparison with 2014 showed that in Bulgaria, the nights spent by non-residents were down by 5.6 per cent and by residents up by 6.2 per cent.
In the EU, the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments by non-residents grew faster (3.5 per cent) between 2014 and 2015 that those spent by residents (three per cent).
In 2015, the largest increases in nights spent by non-residents were in Romania (18.3 per cent), Slovakia (12.8 per cent) and Sweden (9.6 per cent), and by residents also in Romania (15.3 per cent), ahead of the Czech Republic (15 per cent).
In absolute figures, Spain (268 million nights, or 21 per cent of the total of nights spent by non-residents in the EU), Italy (191 million, or 15 per cent) and France (134 million, or 11 per cent) recorded the highest number of nights spent by non-residents in their tourism accommodation establishments, Eurostat said.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)