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Bulgaria's Summer 2010 - Good News, Bad News

Source: Sofia News Agency (
Published Date: 28 Jul 2010

Crass and overbuilt. A sea of concrete, sporting "For Sale" notices. One of the things that foreigners should avoid at all costs while in Bulgaria. This is how the Bulgarian Black Sea coast has been perceived in the last few years.

Well, this summer season brought a good news and a bad news. The good news is that the curve of an ever-increasing number of foreign tourists in Bulgaria did not slump with a spade of complaints as expected. The bad news is that fears that improper management of resources and poor strategy drag Bulgaria down to the club of the cheapest tourist destinations in Europe, proved realistic.

Data shows that Germany remains the traditional primary market for visitors to Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. In 2010 German visitors continue to be the largest single country represented within the figure of EU visitors, followed by the UK. The Romanian and Polish markets are gaining in significance for the local tourism sector and Bulgarian tour operators say these could be the next big thing. Meanwhile Israels conflict with Turkey proved profitable for Bulgarias tourism and the country attracted thousands of Israeli tourists, who initially planned to spend their holidays in its neighbor.

Why Bulgaria? Not that rich foreign tourists like Bulgaria because it offers good value in terms of food prices and accommodation expenses and last but not least has available package tours. The all-inclusive deals that international tour operators offer to various Bulgarian resorts give them an ease of access. Most often they come to Bulgaria with their families and enjoy the traditional combination of hotel, beach and sea. Tourists who like classic packages with good quality at good prices.

Can the smug figures inspire Bulgarias tourism sector to creatively revamp its big-picture goals? Unfortunately quantity indices - like the number of foreign tourists visiting the Black Sea coast - can not be indicative for a small country like Bulgaria. Its coastline is no longer than 380 kilometers, while beaches account for less than 150 kilometers. A small country that faces the risk of quickly running out of resources by overconstructing and urbanizing the landscape, overpopulating the regions of cultural monuments, exhausting human resources and waters.

Tourism is one of, if not the most important industry for the perennially cash-strapped Bulgaria - it not only provides nearly 14% of the country's GDP, but is also a significant source of foreign currency and jobs. But will rich foreign tourists ever go to a nature-turned-desert for their vacation? No. Small wonder budget proved to be a four-letter-word for the sector this year - while the number of foreign tourists is expected to mark a 5% increase, revenues are forecast to be down by at least 10%.

Bulgaria's tourism sustainable development should not focus on major resorts, but should allow tourist industry to regenerate and develop its resources - human, natural and cultural-historical. Develop the inland, stop the construction works along the Black Sea and make Bulgarians spend their holidays in Bulgaria.