At the height of the summer season, when full occupancy in Bulgaria's coastal resorts should be presumed, accommodation supply in Sunny Beach and Nessebur by far outruns demand, tourism experts commented.
The Union of Owners in the Sunny Beach Resort reports a 20 per cent drop in the number of vacationers compared to last year. Any visitor to the resort, however, will see that most hotels are half-empty. The State Agency for Tourism said that some hotels will remain closed throughout the season.
Hotel vacancies in Sunny Beach now outnumber manifold the holidaymakers willing to check in.
One in five seaside hotels, mainly those that do not provide an unobstructed view of the sea, are vacant, the Institute for Analyses and Assessments in Tourism confirmed. Besides this, some 700 hotels have been up for sale for a second year now, but interest in buying them is nil. Nevertheless, new hotels keep entering the market, and still others are nearing completion, and nobody can tell what miracle the developers are hoping for, construction industry experts comment.
An overnight stay at Sunny Beach costs between 40 and 110 leva, largely depending on the distance from the beach. The rate covers bed, breakfast, use of the swimming pool and a beach chair.
The grocery stores in the resort charge between 100 and 200 per cent higher prices than those in the hinterland.
In the pubs, the odd customer has to pay between 30 and 40 leva for 100 g of Bulgarian vodka, a Shopska salad, a soft drink, a steak and a beer. The actual price depends on how far the eatery is from the sea. The night clubs and discos are patronless, too. Still, bouncers manning the empty disco entrances demand a cover charge just for admission, which does not entitle the payer to anything to drink or eat.
Unlike their Greek and Turkish counterparts, Bulgarian hotel owners did not cut their rates, and their facilities remained semi-vacant. "Hotel owners do not offer discounts in Nessebur, whether in the old or in the new part of the town," a local tour operator owner told BTA. In the middle of summer, vacationers in Nessebur are far fewer than expected. Tourism industry experts blame the cheaper options in Greece and Turkey, the bad infrastructure and the poor standard of service.
Even if they decide to reduce their prices, most hotels and restaurants have already wasted this year's high season. Regardless of the "patriotic" calls from the State Agency for Tourism, most Bulgarians prefer to "bail out" the tourism industries of Greece and Turkey. There, they can benefit from bargain offers, a better infrastructure and a higher standard of service. Bulgarians who have holidayed in the southern neighbouring countries are exceedingly pleased with the experience and never come back to the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.