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Bulgaria tourism figures increase this year

November 21, 2011, 2:52 UTC+3

They already mark growth in the bookings of tours to ski and spa hotels

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MOSCOW, November 21 (Itar-Tass) — The number of foreign tourists visiting Bulgaria in the first eight months of this year grew 15 percent, amounting to four million people, mostly owing to a growth in the number of Russian, German and Ukrainian tourists, the Russian Union of Travel Industry reports referring to data of the Bulgarian National Statistical Institute.

According to data from the Bulgarian airports in Burgas and Varna, this year the number of Russian tourists (290,000) has for the first time exceeded the number of German tourists (242,000).

The number of Polish and Czech tourists has also grown by 20 percent. Specialists in the tourism sector are sure that this tendency will stay in place till the end of the year. Experts mark that revenues from tourism in January-August reached two billion euros.

Bulgarian media outlets stress that these figures “are particularly valuable” against the background of events marring the season, in particular the situation with Russian tourists who suffered because of a conflict between Bulgaria Air carrier and the tour operator Alma Tours.

The Russian Union of Travel Industry explains this growth by Bulgaria’s advance on international markets as well as political unrest in Arab countries which made tourists correct their holiday plans. Because of that, Bulgaria has seen growth even on those markets where it has never been particularly popular, experts say.

Bulgarian tour operators also expect a good winter season. According to their forecasts, about a seven percent growth is expected. They pin hopes on Greece, as Greek tourists like to spend Christmas holidays in Bulgaria, as well as on countries of Central Europe and Russia.

They already mark growth in the bookings of tours to ski and spa hotels.

According to the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, 263,000 Russian tourists visited Bulgaria last year against 207,000 tourists in 2009.

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