The Bulgaria 2009 Review: Tourism
Bulgaria Officially Closes State Tourism Agency
Bulgaria's Parliament officially removed the state tourism agency, whose functions will be inherited by the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism.
This is envisaged by amendments to the Tourism Act, which parliament adopted at second reading on October 8.
The Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism will be in charge of the tourism sector from now.
Number of Hotels in Bulgaria Rises Despite Crisis
The number of hotels in Bulgaria increased by 115 in the second quarter of 2009 year-on-year, despite the negative effects of the economic crisis on the tourist business.
Statistics presented by the National Statistical Institute show that the total number of hotels, motels, camping sites, rest houses, and all other lodgings with more than 10 beds went up by 14,5% to 3 015.
The number of people that stayed in the means of accommodations in the second quarter of 2009 decreased by 12,7% to 1 156 000 compared to the same period in 2008. 56,3% of them were Bulgarians.
The foreigners who came to Bulgaria were 13,8% less in Q2 2009 year-on-year. Almost all of the foreign visitors preferred to stay in hotels, and only 0,7% of them chose camping sites and rest houses.
The total number of nights spent in all lodging places in the period April-June 2009 decrease by 16,4% to 3 814 000 year-on-year.
Bulgaria Top Resort Sunny Beach Fully Booked Despite Crisis
Bulgaria's largest Black Sea resort, Sunny Beach, was visited by plenty of tourists this summer despite the economic crisis.
This has been announced by Ivalina Yankova and Peyko Yankov, Executive Directors of the largest hotel company in the resort, Sunny Beach Hotel Holdings Jsc, which owns the four-star hotels Trakia, Trakia Plaza, Hrizantema, Nessebar Beach, and Burgas Beach.
The Sunny Beach Hotel Holdings Jsc has concentrated on attracting a larger number of tourists in order to compensate for the shorter vacations by coming up with more varied tourist services.
Most of those who use the company's services are from Germany. The greatest increase is registered in the numbers of tourists from Israel, Romania, Hungary, and Poland.
The Yankovi family is constantly upgrading their "all inclusive" packages to include additional elements. In their words, the "all inclusive" service is a lot more than just bed and food.
Sex Tourism in Bulgaria Sunny Beach Resort Hit by Crisis
The economic crisis has affected the "sex tourism" in the Bulgarian Black Sea resort Sunny Beach.
The prostitutes in Sunny Beach, who are mostly Bulgarian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Moldavian, are forced to offer their services at very low prices because of the lack of clients, according to a report of the BGNES news agency, as the global economic crisis led to a decline of foreign tourists visiting the top Bulgarian resorts.
BGNES reports that the hourly rate for "standard sex" at Sunny Beach had dropped from EUR 50-100 to EUR 25 per hour, whereas the hiring of a girl for an entire night had gone as cheap as EUR 40-50.
Some of the prostitutes are even reported to have left their pimps because they could not pay the respective percentage they owe to the pimps for "protection".
BGNES reminds of a report of the Face-to-Face NGO stating that some 50% of all prostitutes originated in families with regular abuse and brutality. The prostitutes working at Sunny Beach are said to come from the regions of Ruse, Plovdiv, Svilengrad, and Petrich.
Sofia Sees Sharp Drop in Foreign Arrivals in 1st Half of 2009
The number of foreigners, who visited Bulgaria's capital Sofia during the first half of the year, totaled 112 217, marking a 61,7% decrease over the same period in 2008.
Sofia remains a preferred destination for business and pleasure trips for guests from Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Italy and France, according to data from the municipality-owned Tourism services company.
The economic crisis has certainly impacted negatively the tourism sector in the capital, the municipality commented the data in a press release, circulated to the media.
It points out that Sofia has available numerous three and four-star hotels, which offer good services and reasonable prices.
Recent checks have found out that some hotels hire unqualified staff and obtain forged certification for the quality of services they offer.
Bulgaria Belogradchik Rocks Out of New 7 Wonders Ranking
The miraculous rock formations near the northwest Bulgarian town of Belogradchik did not make it to the final stage of the world's new Seven Wonders ranking.
The Bayor of Belogradchik, Emil Tsanov, announced that the Rocks appeared to be out of the competition after the second stage, the Bulgarian news agency, BTA, reported.
The Belogradchik Rocks were competing with 260 other landmarks from 220 nations all across the world. The global campaign is organized by a Switzerland-based NGO.
The Belogradchik Rocks are miraculous sandstone and limestone rock formations of up to 200 m in height with various shapes resulting from erosion. They form a strip which is 30 km in length and 3 km in width in the northwestern part of the Stara Planina (Balkan) Mountain.
Every single rock is named after a real object that it resembles. The rock range varies in color. The Belogradchik Rocks were declared a natural landmark in 1949. The ancient Belogradchik fortress is also located among the rocks.
Bulgaria's Plovdiv Named World's Sixth Oldest City
British archaeologists proclaimed the second-largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv, to be the sixth oldest city in the world.
Plovdiv shares the sixth spot in the ranking, compiled by the British The Daily Telegraph, together with Faiyum in Egypt and Sidon in Lebanon.
The article, published on December 10, points out that the earliest inhabitation in Plovdiv dates back to 4,000 BC. The city was originally a Tracian settlement before becoming a major Roman city. It later fell into Byzantine and Ottoman hands, before becoming part of Bulgaria.
"The city is a major cultural centre and boasts many ancient remains, including a Roman amphitheatre and aqueduct, and Ottoman baths," the Daily Telegraph points out.
The article cites the Roman writer Lucian saying:"This is the biggest and loveliest of all cities. Its beauty shines from faraway."
The ranking is topped by the city of Jericho, located in Palestine, which was founded in 9000 BC. In ancient times it was surrounded by stone wall and it lived between 1000 and 1500 residents. The town is located near the Jordan River in the West Bank and its population is currently around 20 000 people.
The leader is followed by the city of Byblos, founded in 5000 BC in Lebanon and Aleppo, which share the third place with Damascus, Syria.
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