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Foreign tourists back to Bulgarian ski tracks

British tourists will be back to Bulgaria this winter. The good news came from the Association of...

British tourists will be back to Bulgaria this winter. The good news came from the Association of Bulgarian Tour Operators and Travel Agents after the World Travel Market in London. A few new travel agents have bookings of British tourists for the winter, and planned charter flights from Britain to Sofia and Plovdiv are 8% up. For the first time, a weekly charter flight has been scheduled from Amsterdam to Plovdiv. Tour operators were surprised that during the World Travel Market in London there was keener interest in Bulgaria'scultural tourism on the part of British tourists who usually visit winter resorts for skiing.


What is the situation with traditional Russian tourists?


Some companies report a 20% rise in bookings from Russia. For the time being though, no charter flights have been planned. This is hardly a problem because Russians prefer using regular flights. Skiing enthusiasts from Turkey have made by 100% more bookings for the coming winter, figures show. For the last week of January and the first week of February when they are on holidays, there are no vacancies left in the report of Pamporovo, and bookings for Bansko and Borovets have been on the rise.


Tourists from the Far East, Chinese and India nationals, are still not tempted by Bulgaria. One hindrance is the way visas are issued to them. A Chinese national for instance, has to wait for as long as a month for a Bulgarian visa, and on top of that has to pay 200 US dollars! For the sake of comparison, a Swiss visa takes two days to obtain, and costs a little below 80 US dollars.


What should Bulgaria accentuate to promote a four-season foreign tourist flow?


The Association of Bulgarian Tour Operators and Travel Agents claims that Egypt has lost momentum as a tourist destination because of danger from terrorist attacks. Turkey is in a similar situation. As millions of refugees flock there, tourists are increasingly discouraged to choose Turkish resorts. In the meantime, travel agents are wondering where to redirect flows from those two destinations, so Bulgaria should capitalize on the situation, experts contend. These tourists have a soft spot for cultural tourism and Bulgaria has a lot to offer to them. The gold treasures the country keeps provide a major distinction from Greece, Turkey and Egypt who mostly show archeological remains. So, treasures should become a highlight of Bulgaria's tourist product. Statistics suggest that this country is visited by only 15,000 guests annually who opt for tours of major heritage sites. Other tourists usually combine the sea or mountains with visits to few cultural monuments. Preferred heritage sites are few contrasting to the wealth of history in the Bulgarian lands. For now tourists mostly visit Sofia, Rila Monastery, Plovdiv, Tarnovo and Nessebar.




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