Tourism Minister Expects 30% More Russian Visitors to Bulgaria Next Year
Bulgaria is expecting an increase in the number of Russian tourists to Bulgaria in 2016, the country's Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova has said.
Speaking during a visit to Plovdiv, the second-largest Bulgarian city, Angelkova has added the upward trend is mostly due to the complications for Russians who previously used to spend their summer holidays in Egypt or Turkey.
Officials have estimated over the past weeks that growing tensions between Russia and Turkey over a downed Russian fighter-bomber, along with the crash of a Russian passenger jet over in the Sinai peninsula that Moscow suggests might have been a terror act, could potentially redirect to Bulgaria some of the tourist flow from Russia to the other two countries.
This comes against the backdrop of a decrease in the number of Russian tourists in 2015, in the aftermath of sanctions imposed by the EU over the crisis in Ukraine.
Angelkova has admitted that a 3% overall decrease was noted in the number of summer visitors to the Black Sea.
However, she has added more charter flights carrying tourists reached Sofia Airport in 2015 (180) than the year before (70). Angelkova cites the UK as an example with 64 flights to the airport this year compared to 24 in 2014.
The ministry also expects that the visa facilitation for Russian tourists expected to be in force in less than a month will also provide incentives to tourism from Russia.
For this winter season alone, a 5-7% surge in foreign tourists is expected compared to the 2014-2015 season.
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