Fraught as it may have been by controversies including food poisoning cases, "alcohol tourism", several fatal plunges from hotel balconies, drownings and alleged tax evasion, Bulgaria’s tourist industry appears set to report improved profits as the peak summer season draws to a close.
To extend their earnings, resort managers are highlighting forecasts that warm weather will continue into September, while offering drastically reduced prices from the beginning of September.
According to television station bTV, most hotel managers at Bulgaria’s Black Sea said that they would have 100 per cent occupancy up to the middle of September.
By the end of September, occupancy would be between 50 and 80 per cent, which were healthy figures, according to the bTV report.
Most of the holidaymakers during this time would be Romanians and Bulgarians seeking affordable prices while, according to the Varna Chamber of Tourism’s Stoyan Marinov, mid-September would see the arrival of older people, mostly from Germany.
Managements of the Black Sea resorts of Albena and Sunny Beach reported a strong summer season, according to Bulgarian National Radio. Albena said that it had a six per cent growth in visitors year-on-year, with the largest growth, of 20 per cent, from the German market.
In Sunny Beach, some hotels were booked up to the end of September, when Romanian and many Israeli tourists are expected, the latter to celebrate new year, Rosh Hashanah, in Bulgaria.
Bulgarian National Radio said that price adjustments had made all-inclusive package holidays in Bulgaria cheaper than those in Turkey.
As August ended, local media also made much of the fact that tax changes in Greece would, they said, force up prices in resorts in Bulgaria’s southern neighbour – which like Turkey has been a powerful rival to the Bulgarian domestic market in recent years because of competitive prices, better facilities and service.
Provisional figures for earnings from tourism in Bulgaria in August put the figure at 12 million euro.
The National Tourism Board said that it expected that Bulgaria’s 2011 peak summer tourism season would end with earnings from foreign tourists of about 2.7 billion euro, about 4.5 per cent higher than in 2010.
Last year saw Bulgaria’s tourist industry hard-hit by the global economic and financial crisis.
In 2011, revenue from Bulgarian tourists was not likely to exceed 1.5 billion euro, according to the National Tourism Board.
The full-year increase in the number of tourists is expected to be 14 per cent. The board said that summer 2011 had seen significant increases in the numbers of tourists from Russia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. The increase in tourists from the UK and Germany was slight, the board said.