The lack of advertising, excessive construction and the current crisis have reduced the number of foreigners who spend their holidays in Bulgaria, experts of the tourist sector commented on Tuesday.
According to official statistics, the visits by foreign tourists to Bulgaria in the top month for summer tourism, August, decreased 10.1 per cent from the like month of last year. The National Statistical Institute reports that the number of guests from abroad in August was a little over 1.4 million, including 896,000 (62 per cent) who visited for the purpose of tourism.
The largest is the number of tourists from Germany, followed by Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic. Among EU countries, the number of visits decreased from Malta (91.3 per cent down), Sweden (72.5 per cent), Denmark (65 per cent) and Slovakia (60 per cent). The number of visits increased from Spain, the Czech Republic, Italy and Greece. Among the countries outside the EU, the largest decrease was registered for visits from Turkey (60 per cent down).
Foreigners transiting Bulgaria account for 26 per cent of all visits by foreigners. The largest number of these are Romanians, followed by Turks, Germans and Britons.
Experts ascribe the decrease in the number of foreigners visiting Bulgaria to the lack of good advertising of the country's Black Sea resorts. Besides, many of the tourists who used to spend their holidays in Bulgaria every year, now prefer other destinations due to excessive construction in the Bulgarian seaside resorts, say experts from travel agencies.
The economic crisis prevented many Bulgarians from spending their holidays abroad this past summer as they wanted to limit their expenses. The number of Bulgarians who travelled abroad in August decreased 7.7 per cent from the like month of 2008.
Revenues from foreign tourists in Bulgaria in the first seven months of 2009 decreased 2.6 per cent year on year. Professionals in the sector estimate that the losses were smaller in August and September.
The decline of revenues on the northern section of the Bulgarian coast was 20-25 per cent year on year, the Association of Hoteliers and Restaurateurs says. The decrease resulted from the very limited expenses of tourists for entertainment and shopping.
Some 11.8 per cent fewer tourists spent their holidays on the southern stretch of the Bulgarian coast until September, year on year.
The expected decrease of foreign currency revenues in the region is between 15 and 20 per cent, the President of the Regional Tourist Association, Ivan Ivanov, commented. He described as new leading markets those of Israel, Russia and Belarus.
The trend of a declining tourist flow will deepen next year, Ivanov predicted. This refers mainly to the large tourist markets, he said. According to him, these negative developments can be offset by searching for new niches and promoting Bulgaria as a travel destination in Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia and Montenegro. The lifting of the Bulgarian visa requirements for these four countries on January 1, 2010, is identified by tour operators as a serious advantage.
Bulgarian tourism will earn between 20 and 25 per cent smaller revenues this year, Roumen Draganov of the Institute for Forecasts and Analysis in Tourism predicted. The reason for the decreasing revenues was the 10 to 30 per cent reduction of prices at the beginning of the summer, he said.