Hotel packages for Christmas and New Year's will be fully booked by mid-December, and four- and five-star hotels have already been booked. Despite the crisis most Bulgarians will spend an average of three days in local spa hotels, BTA learned from Roumen Draganov, Director of the Institute of Analysis and Assessment in Tourism.
Many holidaymakers are corporate clients, who get discounts, followed by groups of six or more friends. Individual clients form the smallest single group.
Tour operators have noted a steady flow of bookings for the year-end holidays at a level comparable with last year's.
On the whole, fewer Bulgarians have been travelling abroad in recent months. Likewise, bookings for Christmas and New Year's abroad are nearly 20 per cent down on last year.
Again this year, Bulgarians prefer to spend the holidays in local resorts despite an increase in per night accommodation by nearly 3 leva from the third quarter of 2008.
Hotels in mountain resorts Bansko, Pamporovo and Borovets, in the country's interior and in Black Sea spa hotels offer three-, five- and nine-day packages. Spa hotels - the top selling offer - were fully booked by mid-November. The price of a three-day package ranged between 600 leva and 1,500 leva.
Sixty per cent of Bulgarians prefer three-day stays. The average amount Bulgarians tend to spend during the holidays is 580 leva.
Draganov also said that mid-range prices are no longer in demand. Holidaymakers look for either downscale or upscale prices.
After the EU lifted its entry visa requirement for Macedonia and Serbia, Bulgaria is looking forward to an increase in the number of tourists from these countries. Draganov predicted an increase of 20 to 25 per cent for Macedonian visitors alone.
While those two markets have a larger potential than the EU countries in terms of numbers, Macedonian and Serbian tourists tend to spend less. EU tourists come to Bulgaria mostly on package tours and bring higher revenues, spending 10.2 days on average, as against 3.7 days for Macedonians.