Bulgaria Sizes up Tourism Rivals, Strengthens Brand
Bulgaria has made an attempt to identify better its rivals on the tourism market amid fears that a chronic lack of advertising and the fallout of the global financial crisis may dent domestic and foreign arrivals further.
Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Spain and Italy are Bulgaria's rivals in the battle for clients along the sea coast, according to a survey conducted by the economy ministry at home and abroad.
In Bulgaria foreign tourists enjoy the classic combination of hotel, beach and sea, but are frustrated by the poor infrastructure. Many of them also say they do not feel safe enough.
Despite that 90% of all respondents said they are willing to return to Bulgaria on a new trip, especially in the summer. For even though the weather may be too hot for the lack of a single tree along the streets in Bulgarian resorts, they are one of the best bargain destinations and do not get tourists hot under the collar at their price tags.
The respondents in the survey, including consumers, tour operators and tour agents, said Austria and Italy are the key rivals as far as winter resorts are concerned.
Bulgaria has invested millions in skiing in recent years and although resorts are typically smaller than in France, Austria or Italy, so too are the bar bills.
The Czech Republic is the only player on the European modern balneo-SPA market that can measure up to Bulgaria's wealth of springs of healing mineral waters and mushrooming SPA centers and hotels, the survey shows.
The first modern balneo-SPA hotels in Bulgaria were built in the towns of Devin and Velingrad, while now they are mushrooming across the country together with the creation of SPA centers in hotels, the most attractive of which are those along the Black Sea coast. The foundation on which this booming industry thrives is a wealth of springs of healing mineral waters.
It is namely the wide use of mineral waters that makes the Bulgarian variation of the SPA culture unique as compared to the Russian bath, the Turkish bath, the Scandinavian sauna or the Asian massage centers.
The main weakness in Bulgarian tourism is the lack of brand definition for Bulgaria, according to the survey.
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