SEASONS IN BULGARIA ARE WONDERFUL EVEN WITHOUT SEWAGE AND WATER FACILITIES
Proceeds from tourism for the first seven months of 2004 totalled EUR976.8MN, up 23.8% year-on-year. In the same period Bulgarians spent EUR418MN for trips abroad, i.e. the positive balance from international tourism amounted to EUR558MN. By end-September Bulgaria was visited by 3,342,000 foreign guests, or 17.34% up from the previous season. These are the preliminary figures that have given reason to the Government to remark that 2004 is outlined as the most successful in the branch for the last 20 years. Of course, these figures do not at all mean that things are so rosy in the leisure industry branch. Heaps of criticisms were addressed to the Cabinet during the conclusive discussion about the development of that business, which was attended by deputy premiers Plamen Panayotov and Lidiya Shouleva, the Minister of Environment and Waters Dolores Arsenova, the Deputy Minister of Regional Development of Public Works Petya Gegova, MPs from the NMSII, mayors, and representatives of the leisure industry branch. Rebukes were mostly because of the poor infrastructure, the insufficient capacity of airports in Varna and Bourgas, and beach concessions.According to Nedyalka Sandalska, Executive Director of Balkantourist, grading of ski tracks and especially of beaches (underlying in the latest amendments to the Tourism Act) is impossible under the strengthening urbanization of resorts. The lack of a strategy led to lack of development planning. And no good marketing is possible when there is no development planning. So, we offer expensive hotels but our proceeds are low. Holiday-makers do not spend extra money as everything is included in the price of their vacation, Ms. Sandalska summarized the worries of hoteliers. And tour operators commented in reply: Guests are such as hotels are.A poll of the Bulgarian Chamber of Tourism shows that foreigners in Bulgaria have spent EUR32-33 per day on average, while elsewhere in the worldwide the average money spent daily is USD60-65. The Chairman of the branch organisation Tsvetan Tonchev specified that this figure was reached at by dividing the total proceeds from tourism (for transportation, accommodation, meals and additional activities) into the number of guests to our country and the average length of their stay here. There is no official statistics about that. The analysis of the Chamber of Tourism shows that for that amount of money we offer to the foreign vacationers only bed and meals and almost no additional services, while worldwide they provide the criteria for the development of leisure industry. In the world famous resorts, for example, proceeds from additional services exceed by 35% those coming from the main tourist package. For the relatively slow pace of domestic services development in that direction bespeaks as well the fact that despite the hike of main activities prices in tourism, the average expenses per vacationer were increasing by about EUR1 only in the last three seasons. Official statistics is also silent on the question if the increase in the inflow of tourists is comparable with the growth of available beds this summer. Deputy Minister of Economy Dimiter Hadjinikolov specified for the BANKER weekly that available accommodation went up 25% over the last three year, and the growth in the 2004 summer season alone was 15-16 per cent. The drop in the average occupancy rate of hotels and the decline of their owners proceeds is due to that oversupply of beds.