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Associate Professor Stoyan Marinov: 2015 tourist season was hard for Bulgaria’s coastal Varna
Associate Professor Stoyan Marinov, member of the management board of the Chamber of Tourism in the coastal city of Varna, comments on the past summer tourist season and the expectations for next year’s one in an interview with Radio FOCUS .
FOCUS: Good day, Mr Marinov. Would you tell us some details about the past 2015 summer tourist season, what are the results and the final conclusions drawn? What were the major problems that remain unsolved?
Stoyan Marinov: 2015 summer tourist season in the coastal district of Varna was hard because of the market situation as a result of the tension between Russia and the European Union (EU) and the mutual restrictions imposed.
All this affected the demand and interest in Bulgaria as a tourism destination.
In the past tourist season Varna Airport welcomed 55,000 less Russian tourists and this is around 20% downturn. The number of tourists from Ukraine was smaller, too. There is a serious drop in the tourists from Ukraine, as well as a 20% drop in the number of tourists from Belarus. There is a downturn in the number of tourists from the countries affected by this crisis but mostly from Russia and Ukraine.
Of course, the hotelkeepers, launching flexible price policy and many promotions, somehow and to certain extent managed to compensate for this negative tendency with other markets. For instance, Varna Airport welcomed 14% more German tourists – these are 23,000 more tourists, as well as more than 7,000 more tourists from Poland, 6,000 more tourists from the UK, there were also more tourists from Austria, Denmark and Sweden.
As a results of these efforts, the hotels, speaking about tourists that arrived by air transport, managed to compensate for the abovementioned downturns.
We may even say that there is a slight increase of around 0.8% registered by the end of October.
The situation is different at the airport in the coastal city of Burgas. It reported around 7% drop.
FOCUS: What about the bookings for the forthcoming Christmas and New Year’s holidays?
Stoyan Marinov: The bases, which are of high quality and which are open, have already stopped the sales, as we say it in our tourism language, which means that they are already full for New Year’s Eve. The four-star hotels are already completely booked. There are still some vacancies in the hotels in the lower categories – two or three-star hotels.
The high-quality hotels with more stars are already booked even for next year’s holidays – the holidays in May, the Easter holiday. The sales have stopped, which means that the hotels are already book and it is mostly by the loyal Romanian tourists.
FOCUS: What are your expectations for 2016?
Stoyan Marinov: I may say that I have moderately optimistic expectations. Hopes are high over the crisis between Russia and Turkey. However, we should not crow over and be happy with such a conflict because it harms the global tourism as a whole.
Tourism goes hand in hand with the peace. However, if the situation does not calm down, more than three million Russian tourists will have to look for alternative tourism destinations. Big part of them will head at Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece and Montenegro, but also another big part will come to Bulgaria.
On the grounds of this restructuring of the toursts’ flow, I guess that we will compensate for the loss of Russian tourists during the 2015 summer tourist season and we can even register a growth.
This year Varna Airport welcomed around 110,000 Russian tourists, around 55,000 less compared with the previous year, while next year we may catch up and compensate for the downturn by reaching 200,000, 210,000, 220,000 tourists from Russia.
Burgas generally welcomes more Russian tourists and this season it reported 75,000 less tourists from Russia. I guess that that it will compensate for the drop next year.
According to my expectations for the Russian market, we may welcome between 600-650,000 tourists bearing in mind that under normal conditions we are visited by around 500,000.
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