The Bulgaria Tourism Report examines the strong long-term potential being offered by the local tourism industry, which has the advantage of attracting tourists from both Western and Eastern Europe. In particular, there has been strong growth in arrivals from Russia and Ukraine over recent years, complementing already strong demand from Germany. However, we caution that the economic crisis in the eurozone could weigh on short-term tourism demand from nations such as Greece in particular.
The report also analyses the growth and risk management strategies being employed by some of the leading players in the local tourism sector (ie: airlines and hotel chains) as they seek to maximise the long-term growth opportunities being offered by the Bulgarian market.
In 2011, Bulgaria welcomed 8,712,821 tourists, an increase of 4% on 2010, according to information from the National Statistical Institute (NSI). This was very much in line with BMI's forecast of 8.7mn for the full year. Romania remains the most important source market for Bulgarian tourism and BMI expects this to continue over our new forecast period through to 2017. Behind Romania, Greece is the second most important source market for Bulgaria, followed by Turkey, Germany and Russia.
The Bulgarian tourism industry was rocked by the July 2012 attack on an Israeli tourist bus in the city of Burgas by a suicide bomber. This could lead to a short-term fall in the number of tourists from Israel visiting Bulgaria, as well as a heightened fear among travellers from other nations about how safe Bulgaria is to visit. That said, BMI believes this attack was likely a one-off incident and Bulgaria will now tighten its security to prevent any similar incidents. For 2012, BMI forecasts a 2% increase in tourist arrivals to 8.89mn and a 4% increase in tourist expenditure (in local currency terms) to BGN5.66bn.
For 2013, BMI has the following forecasts and views:
- BMI believes overall tourist arrivals will continue to show steady growth of 4% per annum over our newly extended forecast period to 2017.
- We forecast arrivals from Eastern Europe will continue to grow at a faster rate than those from Western Europe over the coming years, reflecting strong demand from Russia and Ukraine.
- BMI believes unrestrained hotel construction activity in some of the country's largest seaside and mountain resorts, a shortage of skilled workers in the tourism sector and relatively underdeveloped infrastructure remain key areas the Bulgarian authorities need to address in order to ensure the sustainable development of the tourism industry.