Comment: Tourism and the missing word ‘Bulgaria’

As winter draws nearer, tourism folk seem more concerned with the ongoing fallout from the collapse of tour operating giant Thomas Cook and the perceived potential impact that will have on next summer’s tourist numbers than the fast-approaching ski season. At the same time, other significant players in the world of travel have been grabbing the remnants of Thomas Cook and adding them quickly into their own portfolio.

Just as a by-the-by, most or almost all of the varying components of Thomas Cook were actually profitable. What sank it mainly was the debt that it had incurred while on the acquisition trail years ago.

An example of this is the fact that the Thomas Cook Airline was scheduled to make a profit of 140m euro in 2019. The operator’s airline slots in the UK were quickly sold to EasyJet and Jet2 who in turn have rapidly ramped up their tour operating offering for next summer to absorb some of the spare capacity now in the market. Indeed, EasyJet has accelerated the launch of as well as increasing the range of, its own new sizeable tour operating programme (500 beach destinations).

Other long-standing tour operators like Olympic are also expanding into the space that is now available in selected markets.

So in a nutshell, the message across Europe seems to be that the available package tour capacity that was once in Thomas Cook’s possession, is being filled across the board by several major players.

So far so good; but something seems to have been missing. In all the press and travel-related stories regarding the aforementioned purchases, expansions and launches, the word Bulgaria is missing.
The Canaries, Cyprus, Balearic Islands, Egypt, Malta et al, all get a mention along the way with a word about how they will not lose out as former Thomas Cook properties are re-contracted and replacement flights added to programmes; not Bulgaria.

The fact of the matter may be that other tourist destinations are far more united and experienced in showing a united front with their respective governments, trade bodies and hotel owners all pulling in the same direction.

A part of this also includes having an effective marketing plan devised and executed by experienced and knowledgeable people.

That also costs money and we all know that the expression that one has to “speculate to accumulate” is not one that carries too well in this part of the world. Time will tell whether the Black Sea will ride this little storm or how quickly it will ride it; invariably it always “works out in the end”.



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.