Almost no Russian Tourists in Bulgaria this year - they are Selling their Properties
“About 50,000 Russian citizens are expected to come to Bulgaria this year with flights via Istanbul, Dubai and Belgrade, some of them with properties in Bulgaria”, predicts Assoc. Prof. Rumen Draganov, a longtime expert in the field of tourism and a teacher. “However, this is the minimum they reached in the pandemic 2020 - for comparison in previous years they were 550,000, in the years of socialism they exceeded one million”, Draganov said.
Although he does not have exact data, he estimated that these properties owned by Russians in Bulgaria are more than 200,000 - not only by the sea but also inland, and some of them are owned by families in mixed marriages.
“It is very good for some Russians to have property here in this situation because Bulgaria is a safe destination. There are also those who do not agree with what is happening in Russia and want to distance themselves,” he said.
“Is the Russian tourist market lost in our country? At this moment – yes”, Draganov, who is the director of the Institute for Analysis and Evaluation in Tourism, is categorical. According to him, however, the market will certainly recover when the international situation allows it.
“There are Russian citizens who sell their homes but the reasons are mainly economic, in no case based on the attitude of Bulgarians towards Russians, on the contrary, they feel much more stable here and have a much greater desire to rest here instead of to go to Turkey, for example”, according to the observations of Hristo Nikolov, Chairman of the board of the association “With Russia for Faith, Unity and Culture – Nessebar”, which has more than 550 members, more than half of whom are Russians. The association has existed since 2016, and its original idea was to include the Russian diaspora in our country through various cultural celebrations.
“However, EU sanctions definitely have a negative effect on them. Due to the ban on flights, Russians with property in our country travel through Turkey, which makes their visits much more expensive.” Hristo Nikolov also gives a concrete example: “A flight from St. Petersburg through Sochi and through Turkey cost a traveler 1,500 euros, that's a huge amount.”
Half of the Russian properties in Pomorie have been sold
The neighborhood known as “Little Russia” in Pomorie is deserted, and the trend is to sell the apartments available in it. “Right now, you can’t hear Russian speech in the town”, Pomorie Mayor Ivan Alexiev told BTA.
According to him, the reflux began two years ago with the onset of the pandemic and travel restrictions. “Fewer and fewer Russian citizens have started coming, inflation and the collapse of the Russian ruble have also affected them, and this process of selling apartments has begun, which has been going on for two or even three years. Most Russian citizens who visit Bulgaria come in the summer. “There were not that many Russians last summer and the summer before that, and because of the war in Ukraine, homes owned by them are being sold en masse,” he said.
Currently, an extremely small number of Russians are in Pomorie, and at least half of the homes have been sold as property in the last two or three years, the mayor added.
His observations show that the war in Ukraine did not make them come to our country and they are currently staying in Russia. “During winters here there are mostly older people, retirees who tolerate the climate and their relatives help them, but they have obviously returned, I do not see them in the town at the moment,” Alexiev said.
Properties are for sale but not for pennies
“Is there a current market for ‘second home’ properties? Yes, and no. There is no lack of Russians who want to sell their property in our country but in practice, this is now impossible. Such properties in Bulgaria are mostly owned by the average Russian, who has often taken out a loan for the purchase, and were acquired for considerable sums”, Ginka Todorova, manager of the real estate agency MG Estate, with offices in Burgas and Primorsko, told BTA. The devaluation of the Russian ruble is forcing some owners to part with real estate. Another blow comes with the corona crisis, and the war in Ukraine finally puts many of them in a situation of no choice.
“Traveling to Bulgaria is difficult and expensive, for some, it is a problem to service their loans, which are in euros, there are costs for the maintenance of the property, which in the end they cannot use”, says Todorova. “So the decision to sell comes naturally but sanctions against Russia, and in particular those related to payments, are virtually freezing these deals.”
According to her, despite the overall situation, these properties cannot be expected to be bought for pennies and are offered at prices adequate on the market at the moment.
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