Bulgaria’s 2019 summer season was good and saw gains in a number of markets despite increased international competition, Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova said, while acknowledging provisional figures showed a downturn in foreign tourists.
Angelkova was speaking at two successive meetings in Varna and Bourgas with representatives of national and local authorities and the private sector.
She said that in June and July, a total of more than 2.7 million visits by foreign tourists were registered in Bulgaria and a there had been a two per cent increase in the number of foreign tourists staying in accommodation facilities with at least 10 beds on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast in the three seaside regions of Dobrich,Varna and Bourgas.
The Ministry of Tourism had projected earlier in the year that inbound tourism figures would be down by three to six per cent. Angelkova said that she hoped that the final figures would be in the lower range.
From the beginning of 2019 to July, the total number of foreign tourist visits was more than 5.1 million, about 1.8 per cent lower than 2018, which had been a record year, Angelkova said.
She said that there was a clear trend of an increase in the number of visits by Bulgarians to the country’s Black Sea, 12.7 per cent growth in stays at accommodation with 10 or more beds in June-July 2019.
A campaign to promote organised tourism during the “wings” of the season – meaning, around its beginning and its end – was being prepared, Angelkova said.
“We are currently at the final stage of the concept, the lawyers are clarifying the specific legal mechanism,” she said. She said that she had held a number of meetings with managers of major tour operators from key markets working with Bulgaria.
Representatives of the Consumer Protection Commission, National Revenue Agency, Regional Health Inspectorate, Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters and the Interior Ministry who took part in the discussion said that the season had been “normal” and there were no drastic incidents.
At the meeting in Bourgas, Angelkova said that from the reports from state institutions, it was clear that the number of offences along Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast had decreased.
Angelkova said that the number of breaches of rules by holders of concessions of beaches was down. Of the 87 beaches leased or rented, irregularities were found at 13, mainly involving shortages of lifeguards and medical staff, and stalls that were not part of the approved plan. Violators had been fined more than 180 000 leva.
A tests had shown that the seawater along that part of the coast was of excellent quality, she said.
The increase in overnight stays by Bulgarians in places of accommodation with 10 or more beds in the Bourgas district was more than 15 per cent.
She said that Sunny Beach resort ranks the highest in terms of nights and tourists, generating 20 per cent of tourism revenue.
Based on complaints received, checks were carried out on a number of hotels in the Elenite, Ravda and Sunny Beach complexes, Angelkova said. She said that repeat inspections showed that the irregularities had been corrected in a timely manner. In cases where irregularities had not been remedied, fines had been imposed.
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