Bulgaria's Winter Resorts Can Treble Tourist Numbers – Deputy Min
Branimir Botev, Deputy Minister in charge of tourism, has claimed Bulgarian ski resorts could treble the number of annual visitors.
Botev suggested that winter resorts were currently visited by around 600 000 tourists a year but the number could reach over 2 million when their full potential was reached.
"We have three ski resorts which have won international acclaim and welcome both professionals and fans of ski sports - Bansko, Pamporovo, Borovets - but also a range of local spots with great prospects, such as Chepelare, Vitosha, Kom, Beklemeto, etc," Botev said Friday during the presentation of Bulgaria on the second day of the East Mediterranean International Travel & Tourism Exhibition (EMITT) 2014 in Istanbul, according to the government's press office.
The motto of the event was "Bulgaria – Winter & SPA Wonderland."
The meeting was attended by Krasimir Tulechkki, Bulgaria's Ambassador to Turkey, economic and trade representatives, and experts from all Bulgarian consular offices in Turkey.
"Bulgaria ranks 4th in Europe by pace of development of winter tourism and it has the resources to improve its position on this market, especially as regards Turkey," Botev said.
He informed that Bulgaria had been visited by 354 257 Turkish tourists in the period January-November 2013, up by nearly 31% from the same period of 2012, adding that in 2013 Turkey had been the sixth biggest market for Bulgaria's tourist product.
He said that the best opportunities for attracting more Turkish tourists were vacations including winter sports and combined SPA, balneo- and wellness services.
Georgi Ikonomov, Mayor of Bansko, boasted that the resort had registered an increase in numbers of tourists by over 150%, adding that the achievement was still unsatisfactory and new opportunities for promotion would be sought.
Ikonomov declared that Bulgaria had unique opportunities to develop active ski tourism, including five high mountains located near one another, which were no more than 2 hours away from an international airport, and a total of 146 mountain peaks of over 2000 meters.
Botev also boasted that Bulgaria had the highest concentration of mineral waters compared to its total territory, the daily average flow of mineral waters being 274 million liters per 24 hours.
He suggested that year-round balneologic and SPA tourism destinations such as Banya, Hisarya, Pavel Banya, Velingrad, Sandanski, Pomorie, and Sapareva Banya attracted investors' interests.
Tulechki informed that Bulgaria had introduced visa facilitation for new groups of Turkish nationals staying in Bulgaria over the past few years, adding that over 4.5 million Turkish nationals had been granted visa relief and the goal was the total abolition of the visa regime.
He reminded that Bulgaria observed EU requirements in the sphere, including as regards prices of visas.
Tulechki said that the authorities had taken steps to liberalize the process, stressing that a decision had been adopted to dispatch more specialists to consular offices in Turkey in peak seasons.
Bulgaria's Deputy Minister in charge of tourism informed that after the completion of a highway running through Bulgaria's Kapitan Andreeevo it would take 3 hours to get from Istanbul to Pamporvo.
Bulgaria's presentation featured the resorts of Pamporovo, Borovets, Bansko, the Black Sea city of Varna, and the Bulgarian Union of Balneology and SPA tourism.
During the working visit, Botev met with Ziya Taskent, Senior Vice President Marketing & Sales for Turkish Airlines and the two sides agreed to work for the launch of a regular flight Istanbul-Varna.
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