TOURISM REPORTS SMALLER GROWTH COMPARED TO 2004
Bulgaria's chance to avoid being called a cheap destination is to offer splendour to the rich tourists. The small ports at the sea resorts are attractive for guests who want to park their yachts. They will thus be able to travel over the entire Black sea coast and visit all holiday villages. According to unofficial information, the average foreigner spends between EUR500 and EUR800 for a ten-day stay in Bulgaria. If yacht tourism is offered, though, foreigners will provide five-times the current revenues. Hunting tourism is the other alternative. Some 4,500 hunters from Europe come to shoot in the country. If this product is to be included in the catalogues of the big western tour operators, the number of the hunters will grow several times.
Surveys show that
European tourists now prefer countries like Bulgaria
Turkey, Croatia, Egypt and Tunisia rather than the expensive resorts in Italy and Spain. It is evident from the rating tables that tourism in Bulgaria grows five times faster than the world one.
The 2005 figures reveal a 4.5% growth of the number of foreign tourists in Bulgaria. More than a half of them come from the European Union (54.24%). 4,837,150 foreign citizens have visited the country between January and December 2005 (those who merely crossed the country are not included). They are tourists as defined by the World Tourism Organisation and the European Tourism Commission at the European Union. Greek tourists were the most numerous - 665,894 (11.34% fewer than in 2004). Then come Germany with 582,315 tourists (a 2.43% decline) and Macedonia with 581,139 (a 14.79% decline). However, Romanians who came to spend their holiday in Bulgaria have doubled last year, and guests from Great Britain and Turkey have increased by 36 per cent. According to preliminary information, international tourism revenues (transport excluded) amount to EUR1.806BN for the first 11 months of 2005. That's 8.78% more than the figure reported for the same period of 2004. Net revenues due to international tourism for the same 11 months amount to EUR1.061BN (11.9% growth) and they first passed the EUR1BN barrier in September.
Still, tour operators underline that it is not the number of foreign guests that is important but the number of those who will choose Bulgaria for their holiday again. Last year more than 85% of the foreign tourists left the country with a feeling they would come back again.
A large number of the foreigners (72%) spend their vacation at the seaside, 15-18% come to the mountains, and the share of all other alternative forms is about 12 per cent. This is where the greatest potential for growth lies. Conventional types of tourism are not expected to grow further in the next few years, as they are believed to have reached their highest levels. The hotels at the sea and in the mountains have already been built. They are expected to receive two or three times the current visitors. At the same time, the growth seen by the other forms of tourism - rural, religious, ornithological, wine, congress, etc., may be 50 to 60 times.
Four advertising films have been produced so far on the initiative of the executive power - about Bulgaria, about Sofia, about winter tourism and about balneology. Other five films are being produced at present. They will cover the whole spectrum of tourist products offered in Bulgaria. There are also nine clips dedicated to cultural, sea and winter tourism. They are broadcasted by televisions such as Eurosport and Euronews and are part of the national advertising program. The films are shown at international tourist markets, during business meetings and other forms of national promotions abroad. Meanwhile, the tourist product is being developed and the regulation referring to the categorisation, registration and supervision of all tourism activities is being applied.
Trips of Bulgarian people abroad have increased by 10% in 2005. Bulgarian citizens have spent EUR744.5MN there from January to November, which is 4.64% above the amount spent for the same period a year earlier. The biggest number of Bulgarians chose Turkey (1,659,217), so tourists to Bulgaria's southern neighbour grew by 22.69 per cent. Then come Greece (605,097 trips) and Serbia and Montenegro (415,343). Fewer Bulgarians visited Germany and Macedonia compared to a year earlier.