Weak Start of the Holiday Season in Varna due to Numerous Canceled Reservations
Despite expectations for a very good tourist season, hoteliers from Varna say that at the beginning of July there are not many vacationers.
Hotel occupancy is around 35 percent and is unlikely to reach the levels of 2019 when there were almost no vacancies. According to the industry, the lack of tourists is due to increasing inflation, the war in Ukraine and insufficient advertising of Bulgaria in important European markets.
The tourist season on the Northern Black Sea coast started at the end of June, not in May as usual. There is also an outflow of tourists, the industry claims.
"The expectations of the tour operators were that bookings would revive in the summer months, this is not a fact," says Ventsislav Tanchev, manager of a tourist agency in Varna.
Since the war in Ukraine, many of the early bookings that suggested a good season have been canceled, and there are not many new ones.
"At the moment, we can't even reach last year's levels, in terms of occupancy. Unfortunately, the price is not the determining factor, because we are working on contracts that we concluded last year. We also give very big discounts, and yet there are simply no bookings," explained hotelier Stella Deyanova.
In Stella Deyanova's hotel there are tourists from Bulgaria, Poland, Moldova, Romania, even from Ukraine. However, only a third of the vacancies are occupied.
"Those who come, come cautiously, come for a few days at a time. There are no such long stays as we had. We have completely forgotten about the Russian market," says Deyanova.
"Occupancy in hotels is on average 40-50%, which is not traditional. It is usually around 65-70%, in some hotels a little more," explained Pavlin Kosev, chairman of the Varna Association of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers.
There are tourists who vacation every year in the resorts near Varna. Others chose neighboring countries. The industry is demanding that the state stimulate tourism with tax breaks and increase advertising for Bulgaria in important European markets. Tour operators urged Bulgarians to choose their native Black Sea coast this summer.
"It is unlikely that in the coming years, holidays in Bulgaria will be as advantageous in terms of price as they are at the moment. The increase in prices is inevitable for the next season", predicts Vencislav Tanchev.
Negotiations are currently underway for the next season. Due to inflation, holiday prices are expected to rise by around 20%, but are unlikely to be more competitive than those offered in neighboring countries.
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