Is there a decline in the number of tourists this year, what is the impact of the bombing in Burgas and what are the most preferred Bulgarian destinations for summer holidays. To answer these questions FOCUS News Agency seeks Rumen Draganov, director of the Institute for Analysis and Evaluation of Tourism
FOCUS: Mr. Draganov, what percentage is the drop in tourists in the first half, compared to the past years?
Rumen Draganov: We ended the first half with a decrease in the number of tourists within about 2%. This is due to the conditions in the winter. In late January and early February was a big snow that closed roads not only in Bulgaria but also in neighbouring Serbia and Romania, and made very difficult movement in the country. This led to a decrease in the parameter number of tourists. The largest decrease was registered in April when it reached about 14%, and it was mainly based on lower number of tourists who usually visit Bulgaria for the Easter holidays compared to last year. In April, over 83,000 Bulgarians went to Greece, but less than 50,000 were those who came to Bulgaria. Overall May was also with negative indicators, but June gives an assurance that the summer months - July, August and September will be strong and we can recover the parameters in terms of number of tourists in what was last year and to finish the season with a slight increase compared to what it was in 2011.
FOCUS: Is there a decline in the number of tourists because of the attack in Burgas?
Rumen Draganov: Regarding the attack in Burgas, there was no decrease in the parameter number of tourists. A large number of Israeli tourists who were here during the attack and those who arrived with those flights on July 18, continued their vacation in Bulgaria. It is not expected drop from all other markets. To date, there is no response for the reduction of tourists’ groups or cancelling trip. Some tourists or tour operators will likely take advantage of the situation and may request compensation and accordingly cancel flights and reservations, to receive compensation, but this is different than expected drop in the parameter number of tourists.
As a whole Bulgaria offers a very good product in the low budget area and it is very well accepted. Those who have booked for summer and beach holidays, but also in any other tourist offers in Bulgaria related to mountain tourism, with rural tourism, cultural tourism, is now carrying out their programs to 100%.
FOCUS: What is the number of the occupied bed base now?
Rumen Draganov: Bed occupancy rate at the time in the major seaside tourist resorts, this weekend as this trend will continue until August 5, is within 98% to 106%.
FOCUS: Is there a significant difference compared to last year?
Rumen Draganov: Regarding the strong asymmetry, which we have in Bulgarian tourism, there is no difference. Last year in these months - July, August and September, overall growth rates compared to 2010, were within 1 to 3%. This year we expect to be at the level of last year with a slight increase within no more than 4%.
FOCUS: What part of the Bulgarians spend summer vacation on the Bulgarian Black Sea?
Rumen Draganov: According to studies that have been published recently about 48% of Bulgarians use their time for summer holidays, and generally two thirds of them use the time to go to the seaside.
FOCUS: What are the most popular destinations on the Bulgarian Black Sea?
Rumen Draganov: Different focus groups prefer different destinations. Young people prefer destinations that are further away from the noisy mega complexes and choose places such as Irakli, Karadere, places that are in the space between Primorsko and Tsarevo resorts, and over the northern part of Shabla. Those families with children prefer the southern coast, mainly Pomorie, Primorsko, Sozopol and small towns around Primorsko. They usually stay in private houses and hotels that offer relatively better prices. Tourist resort Albena is also preferred for offering "all inclusive" and in general the option to plan your holiday in full without the need to have additional costs. Those who want more fun and entertainment and nightlife prefer resorts such as Sunny Beach, Golden Sands, where currently there are many interesting programs, particularly with famous DJs, offering concerts on the beach.