Bulgarian Truckers’ Plans to Close Border with Greece Threaten Losses for Tour OperatorsTourism | April 22, 2016, Friday // 11:03| views
Trucks remained stuck for days on the Bulgarian side of the border with Greece in February 2016 after Greek farmers set roadblocks at the crossings to protest at planned pension cuts and tax hikes by the Greek government. File photo by BGNES
Plans by Bulgarian road hauliers to halt traffic at crossings on the border with Greece during Orthodox Easter holidays threaten to incur huge losses to tour operators and hotel owners, bTV broadcaster reported on Friday, citing industry sources.
Truckers have announced plans to seal off all crossings at Bulgaria’s border with Greece from April 29 to May 8 in a tit-for-tat action following a blockade of the crossings at the common border by Greek farmers earlier this year. The farmers disrupted motor traffic across the border to protest against pension and tax reforms proposed by the Greek government as part of funding arrangement with the country’s international creditors.
The Bulgarian economy had suffered estimated losses of more than EUR 11 M, while those for the tourist sector exceeded EUR 1.2 M as a result of disrupred road traffic.
The risk of remaining stuck at the border is likely to discourage about a fifth of an estimated 110,000 Bulgarians who are expected to travel to Greece for Orthodox Easter holidays, according to forecasts of the Institute for Analyses and Assessments in Tourism, bTV said. Those who are likely to drop plans to travel to Greece around Easter include mainly people who won’t be traveling on package tours, according to the projections of the Sofia-based industry association.
Disruptions to motor traffic could also discourage some Greek tourists to visit Bulgaria during the holiday period. An estimated 80,000 tourists are expected to arrive in Bulgaria from Greece, which also marks Easter according to the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Total spending by those visitors is expected at between BGN 42 M to BGN 47 M in case border crossings remain open.
The Association of Bulgarian Tour Operators has pledged to seek alternative routes to take Bulgarian tourists to Greece in case of disruption of motor traffic at the common border, bTV said.
Booked trips wouldn’t be cancelled but would be re-routed through Macedonia or Turkey, with the additional costs of longer travel to be borne by the tour operators, the Association has decided.
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