ARTICLES 
TOURISM BAROMETER: Bulgarias tourism sees rising prices and visitor count
The Sofia Echo, 9th - 15th December 2005

Rising prices and visitor figures are two processes that go hand-in-hand in Bulgarias tourist industry, recent data shows.

A total of 4 360 239 foreign tourists visited Bulgaria in the January-October 2005 period, up 5.79 year-on-year, the Culture Ministry said on November 30.

In October 2005, 310 852 foreign tourists visited Bulgaria, down 11 410 tourists, or 3.54 per cent, compared to October 2004, mainly due to the smaller number of Greek, Macedonian and Serb and Montenegrin tourists in that month.

The number of foreigners visiting Bulgaria for a vacation stood at 3 733 614 for January-October 2005, an increase of 3.56 per cent compared to the same period of 2004.
For the first ten months of 2005, Germany retained top position with 570 242 tourists, followed by Greece with 545 899 tourists, Macedonia with 492 036 tourists and Serbia-Montenegro with 452 650 tourists.

The number of UK tourists stood at 356 421, up 36.10 per cent year-on-year, while the number of Turkish holidaymakers increased by 39.10 per cent to 225 830.

The Russian tourists also increased by 17.60 per cent to 167 643.

The number of tourists from EU member states had the largest percent increase for January-October 2005, 6.7 per cent as compared to the rest of the world. The number of tourists from the older member states increased by 6.57 per cent, while the growth rate of newer EU member states tourists stood at 7.34 per cent.
But, the rise in the number of foreigners visiting Bulgaria with holiday intentions is causing a rise in prices, which is busting the hopes of domestic vacationers, who are finding it harder and harder to pay for any kind of leisure activity.

The latest example of this negative trend came just a few weeks before the official launch of the winter skiing season, when Yulen, the company operating ski facilities in the mountain resort of Bansko, said the price of the daily pass for the use of the ski lifts will double from last year, to 50 leva, making it too expensive for Bulgarian skiers.

A two-day pass will rise to 95 leva, while a weekly pass will cost 280 leva.

Bulgarias other two major ski resorts, Pamporovo and Borovets, also intend to increase the prices of ski lift passes.
Resort operators obviously do not care for the native visitors, as long as the money they are making from foreigners makes their pockets heavy. Official statistics of the Agency on Tourism with the Culture Ministry showed that foreign tourists spent 1.661 billion euro in Bulgaria from January to September 2005.

Thus, Bulgarian tourism revenue registered an increase of almost 10 per cent compared to the same period of 2004. The sum does not include transport expenses of tourists.

In the entire 2004, Bulgarian holiday resorts welcomed over 4.1 million tourists, who spent in Bulgaria 1.8 billion euro.

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