Bulgaria Hopes for 600 000 Russian Tourists in 2012Tourism | May 18, 2012, Friday // 17:18| views
Russian tourists are flocking to Bulgaria in greater numbers for summer vacations. Photo by BGNES
Bulgaria remains one of the top holiday destinations for Russians, and expects a 30% y/y growth in the number of Russian visitors, according to the Bulgarian Consulate in Moscow.
With the arrival of the summer tourist season the Bulgarian Consulate in the Russian capital is already issuing 3 000 visas daily, the Consulate said, as cited by the Bulgarian National Radio Friday.
For the first four months of 2012, Bulgaria has granted 11% more visas to Russian tourists compared with the same period of 2011, the data indicates.
At the same time, the Bulgarian Consulate in Moscow is quoted as stressing that the actual increase in the number of Russian travelers to Bulgaria is no less than 27% when the Russian holders of the so called Schengen visas are also counted in.
The number of Russians traveling to Bulgaria for the purpose of purchasing real estate properties or spending time in vacation homes that they have already purchased; organized children's tourism is also on the rise.
The Bulgarian consulate in Moscow expects to be issuing about 4 500 visas to Russian visitors daily during the busiest summer periods. In order to meet this demand, it has boosted its staff, adding 8 new members.
At the same time, Bulgaria's consular services are expanded to reach new Russian cities – with a new visa center opened in Irkutsk on Friday, and visa centers to be opened in Ufa, Khabarovsk, and Vladivostok. Similar visa centers are already operational in Krasnoyarsk, Kaliningrad, and Sochi.
Over 455 000 Russian citizens visited Bulgaria in 2011, which was an increase of more than 20% year-on-year.
The number of visas that Bulgaria issued to Russians in 2011 grew by 35% compared with 2010, and by 100% compared with 2009. Earlier in 2012, Bulgarian Deputy Economy Minister in charge of tourism Ivo Marinov predicted a 20% rise in the number of Russians visiting Bulgaria in 2012.
According to Bulgarian government data, Bulgaria was visited by 6.4 million foreign tourists in 2011, an overall increase of 4.6% compared with 2010. At the same time, Bulgaria's revenues from foreign tourists' visits grew by 3.8 y/y, reaching EUR 2.8 B.
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