Bulgarian Hotel, Restaurant Owners Urge Eased Visa Regime for Russian TouristsTourism | March 29, 2015, Sunday // 15:46| views
File photo by BGNES
Restaurant and hotel owners held a procession in the city of Burgas on Sunday, calling on the government to ease visa regulations for Russian tourists to help Bulgaria’s tourism sector cope with a recent decline in the number of Russian visitors.
The procession of some 100 motor cars comprised representatives of hotel and restaurant owners as well as the Bulgarian Investment Building Association. A BIBA official told state news agency BTA the sector wants relaxed visa regime to apply also to nationals of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Bulgarian tour operators have recently voiced concern about an expected drop in the number of visitors from Russia during summer 2014 due to the fall in the Russian rouble and the EU sanctions against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine.
Cheaper rouble make it more expensive for Russian tourists to spend their summer holidays in Bulgaria where the currency is pegged at a fixed exchange rate to the euro.
At the same time, neighbouring Turkey and Eurozone member Greece are more flexible in their approach, seeking to attract Russian tourists during the summer.
Therefore, the protesters said, Bulgaria needs to introduce a relaxed visa regime and free visas for Russian tourists, including issuing visas upon arrival at the international airports in the Black Sea cities of Varna and Burgas.
A year or two ago about 600,000-700,000 Russian visitors stayed in Bulgaria for different period of time. In addition to visitors on a tourism package there were owners of holiday properties in Bulgaria as well as company owners who had moved their business to Bulgaria among them.
Bulgaria’s Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova has said a tough summer season was lying ahead and urged the industry to make a more efficient use of EU funds to improve the quality of services.
“Bulgaria’s tourism market is not limited to Ukraine and Russia and the outflow does not depend on Bulgaria and was not caused by Bulgaria,” she said on BNR radio last week.
Bulgarian tour operators expect the number of visitors from Poland to grow by six or seven percent and those from the Czech Republic to increase by five or six percent this summer, Angelkova said earlier this month.
An increase is also expected in the number of visitors from neighbouring Turkey and Greece (+10%), Serbia (+2%) and Macedonia (+3%). Tourists from Belarus are expected to increase by about five percent, while the number of visitors from Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova is projected to rise by about 40% each.
We need your support so Novinite.com can keep delivering news and information about Bulgaria! Thank you!