Lack of Snow, Crisis Threaten Bulgaria's Winter TourismTourism | December 2, 2011, Friday // 15:23| views
Bulgaria's winter resorts largely rely on tourists from the UK and Russia. File photo
Bulgaria is no different than the common trend of decline in the number of reservations for winter vacations, according to the Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, Traicho Traikov.
Traikov spoke for the media Friday, after being asked to comment on fears of the tourist sector about a decline of bookings from Russian and UK tourists. He said there is such decline and if it doesn't catch up at the last moment, there will be a drop of the UK market on Bulgarian winter resorts.
The Minister cited data from World Travel Market, showing a drop of reservations for Switzerland by 67%, by 80% for the US, and by 50% for France.
One of the reasons for the possible decline in the number of tourists from the UK, cited by him, is preliminary data that in 2015, the forecasted income of British households would not reach the 2002 levels. In addition, in order to guarantee the stability of the country's social system, there is a planned acceleration of the retirement reform by eight years in order to establish retirement age for both males and females at 67 years.
Traikov informed his institution is supporting the proposal for the so-called "seasonal hotels" to pay tax only when they are open for business and have visitors, but the percentage is not yet determined.
British tourist are waiting to find out when there will be snow in order to make reservations and the later are way behind the preliminary contracts signed with tour operators, the Bulgarian Monitor daily writes, citing people from the tourist business being nervous about both the unfavorable meteorological conditions and the financial crisis.
The lowest price for packages for British tourists, who are key for Bulgaria's winter resorts, starts at GBP 250-300 for a week stay, including airfare and a ski lift card.
The second group on which local resorts rely - the Russians also do not make plans for winter vacations in Bulgaria unless there is snow in the forecast, experts say.
Tour operators estimate 50% current reservations of the entire capacity of the resorts.
Last winter the "good" snow arrived around January 15, and lasted until April, but tourists did not book vacations after the peak of the season.