The number of Ukrainian tourists in Bulgaria has doubled in the last four years, according to the Economy Ministry.
Some 146,347 citizens of Ukraine have visited Bulgaria in 2010, compared to 295,405 in 2013. The number of Russian tourists has also increased from 378,382 to 681,562 in 2013. Both markets are not influenced by promotions and bookings are made months before the trip.
“Our colleagues are very worried, but it is still too early to predict what will happen. We all hope that by the end of April, the crisis in Ukraine will be over,”said Bayko Baikov, chair of the Association of Bulgarian Tour Operators and Travel Agents. According to him, on average, about 1 million tourists come from Romania each year.
Over 680,000 Germans traditionally chose to spend their vacation in Bulgaria in 2013. During the tourism fair in Berlin in early March, Deputy Economy Minister Branimir Botev announced the launch in Germany of a new advertising campaign under the slogan ‘Bulgaria – discover and share’.
Bulgarian tourism is one of the most quickly developing sectors. Some 6,897,484 foreigners visited the country in 2013 which is 5.5% more than in 2012. Revenues exceeded EUR 3.058B and were nearly 4.9% higher than a year earlier.
More than 9 million foreign tourists will visit Bulgaria in 2020, and ten years later they will reach over 12 million, according to the estimates presented in the strategy for the development of the industry by 2030. Currently the sector provides 13.6 % of the GDP, and by 2020 its contribution is expected to reach 18%.
Earlier in March, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski claimed that Bulgaria is losing tourists due to the current situation in Ukraine. He acknowledged that there were concerns about the success of the summer tourist season in Bulgaria.
However, experts have rejected the claims of an outflow of Ukrainian tourists from Bulgaria. According to Blagoy Ragin, Chair of the Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association (BHRA), there could be no talk of an outflow of Ukrainian tourists at this stage, adding that the problem was that their currency was losing value.