Bulgaria’s Tourism Ministry: 10% of places of accommodation shut down amid Covid-19 crisis

There was a 10 per cent decrease in places of accommodation with more than 10 beds between July 2020 and July 2021, Bulgaria’s Deputy Minister of Tourism Irena Georgieva told a forum on the situation, challenges and business opportunities following the impact of the Covid-19 global pandemic, a statement by the ministry said.

Georgieva said that one of the consequences that could not be ignored was the shortage of staff, as workers in many areas of the tourism industry had moved to other industries, and valuable professionals with skills and years of experience had been lost.

She said that the pandemic had had an asymmetric impact on tourism.

Urban destinations had suffered the most because of strict restrictions on conferences, exhibitions and cultural activities, which had deprived cities of a lot of tourism revenue.

At the same time, rural and mountain areas, as well as resorts, had been preferred, a result of growing consumer demand for safer and more individual tourism, including outdoor activities.

The technological innovations dictated by the pandemic had changed the sector at great speed, with more than 85 per cent of tourists now wanting a tourist product based on personalisation and an experience that coincides with their personal preferences, Georgieva said.

Artificial intelligence and virtual reality were also another useful tool for enriching visitors’ experiences, she said.

Contactless technologies are already a part of the life of almost every ordinary person, so the industry must adapt to them in order to be relevant to the new world and to meet the needs of its customers, Georgieva said.

Another significant trend was the growth in domestic tourism and the preference for nearby destinations and late bookings.

There was also a transition from air travel to road tourism, whether national or international.

There had also been a significant decline in corporate travel and business tourism, which was likely to remain a constant trend and would undoubtedly lead to further consequences for travel agencies and airlines, she said.

Citing Eurostat data, she said that the process of recovery of foreign tourist visits to Bulgaria had begun. Overnight stays by foreigners in places of accommodation in Bulgaria in July 2021 were 137 per cent higher than in July 2020, Georgieva said.

(Photo: Kevin Rutherford)

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