Bulgarian Caretaker Minister Emphasizes Increase in Tourist Numbers, Revenues
Bulgaria’s caretaker Economy Minister in charge of Tourism, Branimir Botev, has opposed gloomy forecasts about the sector.
In a Sunday interview for the Bulgarian National Television, he emphasized that the National Statistical Institute had registered increases in both tourism revenues and numbers of visitors for the summer season, despite the complaints of tour operators and hoteliers.
Citing data of the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB), Botev noted that the sector of tourism had fetched over EUR 1.74 B by June.
He said that decreases in numbers of tourists had only been registered for Ukraine and the United Kingdom out of the top ten countries by number of visitors.
Botev, as cited by investor.bg, informed that the number of Ukrainian tourists visiting Bulgaria had dropped by a mere 4.6%, instead of 30-35%, as indicated in some forecasts.
He argued that UK visitors had been more active in the winter season.
Bulgaria’s caretaker Minister in charge of tourism boasted of a diversification in the sector, adding that out of a total of 4.5 million tourists who had visited the country in 2014, over 2.4 million had arrived from EU countries, meaning that the trend had been reversed and Bulgaria had grown less dependent on Russia.
He explained that the number of Russian tourists in Bulgaria had increased by 1.7% in 2014, staying relatively stable, against the backdrop of Moscow’s warnings of a 30% slump in overseas travels as the ruble plunged to historic lows.
Botev predicted a substantial growth in the number of Turkish tourists in Bulgaria after the launch of the Varna-Istanbul-Varna flights, stressing that the Varna Airport could turn into a hub for flights via Istanbul to other European destinations.
He pointed out that the flight connection to Istanbul had increased the number of wealthy tourists from the Middle East, China and other Asian countries and expressed hopes that they would keep visiting Bulgaria.
Botev suggested that the launch of the Maritsa motorway would be very beneficial for the mountain resort of Pamporovo, taking into account the interest of Turkish tourists in Bulgarian ski resorts.
He added that the number of Turkish visitors to Bulgarian mountain resorts had increased by 61% to a rate of over 250 000.
Botev also predicted a significant growth in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Bulgaria, stressing that the authorities were developing special routes for them.
He made clear that some 40 000 Chinese visitors were expected to visit Bulgaria in 2015 and the number could swell to 200-500 000 in a few years’ time.
Botev said that Bulgaria was also seeking to draft routes for Russian tourists interested in pilgrimage and religious tourism.
He noted that cruise ship tourism was also gaining popularity, adding that over 50 000 visitors had entered Bulgaria through the ports in the Black Sea cities of Varna and Burgas.
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