Air travel and tourism: Options become more exotic

The laws of economics and of supply-and-demand theory seem to be severely questioned when low-cost airlines enter a market.

It seems that in most cases, they create a demand by offering a new supply, which in this case, refers to airline seats.

When low-cost airlines or no-frills airlines, as they were once called, first started their lives, they would fly to (for example) places in the UK that French people had never heard or to places in France that most UK people also had never heard of.

It then expanded to places in Poland and Romania that no one else in Europe had also ever heard of.

Not that this mattered, as the business model worked and probably also rewrote the text books of marketing with it.

The explosion – a perfectly suitable word that does not exaggerate the situation – that Bulgaria has seen both with its arrivals and with the new opportunities to travel for locals which are presented to both the well-travelled and the newcomers to the game, are almost entirely thanks to the low-cost carriers.

As far as the latter scenario is concerned, the holiday to the Black Sea, for many, has been replaced with holidays to Spain, Italy and elsewhere. The short break to Europe, that just 10 years ago was a pipe dream, has now gone beyond Barcelona and London to Dubai. Holidays or short breaks to the likes of Qatar and Dubai are as quick and easy as driving to Varna and often little more expensive.

Local tour operators abound with such holiday offers, but soon the exotic (as these places were once perceived) will have another previously unthought-of exotic destination as a rival: Aqaba in Jordan.

Ryanair plan to start flights twice weekly to the coastal city on the Red Sea later in 2018. The move is part of wider plans to move into the Middle East with flights to both Aqaba and the capital Amman being operated from airports across Europe including Prague, Bucharest and Budapest (as well as Sofia) to name but a few.

Even for the “travel experienced”, Aqaba sounds fanciful, but Ryanair get it right more than they get it wrong. From a local perspective, the interest which is reflected in the demand for flights to Dubai and other places shows there is an untapped interest to travel.

Aqaba is relative close, has great year-round weather, is a beach resort and is relatively inexpensive. Also – here comes the ace card – it’s a stone’s throw from Eilat in Israel and the Taba Resort areas of Egypt.

Just to give an idea of travelling time, Eilat is about 20 minutes from Aqaba and Taba is not much further. There is even a ferry from Aqaba to Taba, akin to the Greek ferries. Also, if there is demand from Bulgaria to these areas, there is also likely to be demand from these same areas to visit Bulgaria, be it to ski, shop, sight-see or visit the casinos. A win-win situation, one might say.

It is too early to forecast how this new route will pan out in the future, but what we see and have seen over the years are that the boundaries to travel are being pushed further, while at the same time the barriers to them are being broken.

If Bulgaria was to award a medal for services to the country, rather than giving them to a foreign ambassador, as tradition seems to suggest, they should give them to the likes of Ryanair and Wizz Air.

(Photo: Griszka Niewiadomski/





Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas is Managing Director of Jamadvice Travel / BCD Bulgaria, one of Bulgaria’s leading Travel Management Companies with 28 years market leading presence on the Bulgarian market.