Minister: Drop of Russian Tourists to Be Compensated by European VisitorsTourism | April 18, 2015, Saturday // 13:16| views
Bulgarian Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova. Photo: BGNES
Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova said on Saturday that the declining interest of Russian tourists towards Bulgaria could be compensated by visitors from the rest of Europe.
Russia and Ukraine represented an important, but not the sole market for Bulgarian tourism, Angelkova added in an interview for private bTV station.
Her words came amidst the heightened concerns of the tourism sector regarding the forthcoming summer season and the numerous political comments on the topic.
According to her, the decrease of Russian tourists varied from 20 % to 80 % and the trend dated from a year and a half.
Angelkova quoted statistical data of Russian tour operators, which revealed considerable decrease in the Russian interest towards other traditional destinations such as Egypt, Turkey and Israel.
According to tourist agencies, the drop in the number of Russian tourists was due to factors such as the financial crisis that Moscow was experiencing and the devaluation of the rouble.
The conflict in Ukraine and the participation of Bulgaria in the sanctions against Moscow were further reasons for the withdrawal of Russian visitors.
The minister said that the forthcoming tourist season will be full of challenges and called for focusing on what could be put on offer rather than calculating the losses.
She explained that the withdrawal of Russian tourists was expected to be compensated by the increasing interest of tourists from the rest of Europe towards Bulgaria.
According to her, the expectations were that there will be a 5 % increase in the number of German tourists, 40 % growth of visitors from Lithuania and Latvia and 5-10 % rise from the neighbouring Balkan states – Greece, Serbia and Turkey.
The Minister admitted that there were serious problems in the tourism sector in Bulgaria, one of them being the quality of the service provided.
Angelkova pointed to the cadres as presenting the most serious problem and added that the amendments to the Tourism Act foresaw increased control in this respect.
One such measure was the introduction of voluntary requirements for quality labels, which will distinguish and reward those employed in the tourism sector for their efforts.
Angelkova assured that the the government fully realised the importance of tourism to the Bulgarian economy and pointed that this was the first cabinet to establish a dedicated tourism ministry.
As regards the recently unveiled exhibition of Thracian treasures in the Louvre, she called for using this great advertisement and unite efforts on portraying Bulgaria as a country of great opportunities.
According to her, right now Bulgaria was in the attention of world media and it was anticipated that the exhibition will be visited by a total of 22 million people in the next three months.
It was estimated that this will result in a 5 % increase in the number of tourists visiting Bulgaria.
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