Bulgarian Tourism Expert Anticipates Discounts of up to 50% at Greek Hotels
Rumen Draganov, Director at the Bulgarian Institute for Analysis and Assessment in Tourism, has argued that the referendum in Greece will have a substantial impact on the tourist season.
In an interview for investor.bg, Draganov claims that Greece will take a long time to gain back trust, taking into account that the political crisis appears set to continue.
He says that it is possible that major travel agencies cancel reservations made by tourists from European countries, thereby making it impossible for Greece to achieve the projected increase in tourist numbers for the 2015 summer season.
Draganov suggests that the forecast of 25 million tourists visiting Greece will not be fulfilled as the country loses 1.5 million tourists per month.
He states that the negative impact of the situation in Greece will not only affect arrival numbers but also trips of Greeks abroad due to the refusal of the host countries to accept payments via credit cards issued in Greece.
Draganov believes that Bulgarian tourists will not be affected by the developments because they tend to make cash payments, unlike other European citizens.
He predicts fierce competition among hotel owners in Greece for the cash payments, adding that this may lead to discounts of up to 50%.
In Draganov’s words, the number of Bulgarians planning to spend the holidays in Greece is unlikely to increase.
He informs that 4 million Bulgarians a year travel abroad, while 20 million Bulgarians make trips in the country.
Draganov emphasizes that over 9 million foreign nationals visit Bulgaria on an annual basis, meaning that there is no reason to worry that revenues are being diverted abroad.
He draws attention to the fact that tourism remains a key generator of revenues for the local economies in Bulgaria, adding that all foreign tourist numbers are much smaller compared to the number of domestic tourists.
Asked to comment on the fact that beaches in Bulgaria have become unaffordable, unlike Greece, Draganov declares that Bulgaria needs to take steps to make access to beaches free of charge if it wants to be a competitive tourist destination.
“You cannot have an overnight stay, say, in Nesebar, cost BGN 20, while renting a beach umbrella and two beach chairs costs BGN 20,” Draganov adds.
He says that it is up to the government to make the service free of charge, thereby boosting the competitiveness of the country.
He also calls for the introduction of rules regulating the management of tourist zones such as Bansko and Sunny Beach, adding that these economic zones fail to get a share of the revenues they generate due.
Regarding the proposal of Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova that the Tourism Ministry become a one-stop-shop for large-scale investors in the sphere, Draganov says that any investors interested in setting foot in the country must be acquainted with the fact that Bulgaria already has a huge accommodation capacity, a total of 1.5 million beds, with the occupancy rate amounting to around 33% over the past few years.
Draganov expects a decrease by 20% in the number of Russian tourists, while the number of arrivals from Ukraine is expected to drop by around 12%.
He says that tourists from other countries are expected to compensate for the projected decrease, with Bulgaria set to report a 4% increase in tourist numbers at the end of the 2015 summer season.
Draganov informs that the total number of tourists visiting Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast is expected to reach 7.5 million, up by 300 000 from the summer of 2014, adding that the increase includes both domestic and foreign tourists.
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