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Published by Ana Bairac

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Published by: Ana Bairac on May 02, 2011
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Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1599611
Tourism Management and Planning in Bulgaria
Stanislav Ivanov and Miroslava Dimitrova
Stanislav Ivanov, Ph. D.: International University College, Bulgaria, email:stanislav.ivanov@vumk.euMiroslava Dimitrova, Ph. D.: International University College, Bulgaria, email:miroslava.dimitrova@vumk.eu
1. Introduction
With a size of 111 000 sq. km and a population of 7.5 mln inhabitants, Bulgaria is amedium sized European country. Located on the Balkan peninsular it borders Romania to the North, Serbia and Macedonia to the West, Greece and Turkey to the South and the Black sea tothe East. Tourism is a major industry in Bulgaria. In 2008 the country had 3217 accommodationestablishments serving 4.391 mln guests who spent 320 mln euros for 15.372 mln overnights(NSI, 2010). The balance of payments contribution of inbound tourism in 2008 was 2 873.8 mlneuros, offsetting the negative trade balance. In total the hotels and restaurants sector employed128 000 people and formed 500 mln euros of gross value added (2,8% of total GVA in Bulgariafor the same year). It also contributed to 0,436% of the economic growth in 2005 (Ivanov andWebster, 2010).Current chapter focuses on the evolution of tourism development in Bulgaria and thenational, regional and local institutions responsible for its development. Although tourism playsan important role for the economic development of the country, the public authority that isresponsible for its management has never been granted a high rank within the stateadministration. On national level tourism has been managed by a committee, association, stateagency that changed its legal status and subordination manifold but never by a ministry of tourism. In 2009 the existing State Agency for Tourism was closed and transformed into adirectorate within the mega Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism (MEET).
2. Evolution of tourism in Bulgaria
Tourism development in Bulgaria dates back to the pre-World War II period but gainedmomentum after the war. Within the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (that existedduring the period 1949-1991) which was the equivalent of the European Economic Communityfor the communist countries, Bulgaria was specialising in tourism. The regime relied on tourismas one of the sources of foreign exchange. In this regard during the 1950s and 1960s large sea-
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1599611
 2side mass tourism resorts were constructed
“Druzhba” (renamed later to “St. Constantine andHelena”), “Chaika” (renamed to “Sunny Day”), “Golden Sands” and “Albena” on the NorthBlack Sea coast, and “Sunny Beach” on the South coast. The mountain resorts of “Pamporovo”(in the Rhodopes) and “Borovets” (in Rila) were the flagships of winter skiing. The predominant
market segments were the Soviet Union and the countries from the Eastern bloc. This determinedthe high number of tourists coming from Eastern European countries.After 1989 tourism sector in Bulgaria experienced profound changes in both the structureof tourism supply and demand. The early 1990s witnessed the start of the transition fromcentrally planned to market economy. The chaos and uncertainty during the period resulted in asignificant drop in the number of tourist arrivals
the number of international leisure touristsdecreased from 2.497 mln in 1985 to 2.161 mln in 1990 and 1.974 mln in 1998 (NSI, 2001). Onthe positive side, private investments entered the tourism industry and many new small hotels,restaurants, tour operators were established. The second half of the 1990s was characterised by privatisation of government owned tourist companies (including the national carrier at that time
“Balkan”) an
d foreign investments in the sector, followed by massive domestic investmentsduring the first years of 21
century. As a result, currently more than 99% of the industry is run by private companies. Of course, the development was not without its problems.Overconstruction in the seaside and ski resorts is an often phenomenon, accompanied withlimited or missing infrastructure.In 2009, Bulgaria boasts 3533 accommodation establishments (hotels, motels, resorts,chalets) with total 287423 beds (NSI, 2010)
an increase with 9,82% of the number of establishments and with 3,92% of the number of beds compared to 2008. The current economiccrisis led to the delay of many construction projects in the area and the future prospects for the bed capacity growth are not high. However, it must be pointed out that the number of beds inBulgaria might be underestimated due to the high level of non-observed economic activities intourism in Bulgaria (Ivanov, 2005). The bed capacity is concentrated predominantly on the Black sea coast and the capital city Sofia - in 2009, the 3 administrative districts on the Black sea coast(Bourgas, Varna and Dobrich) and Sofia had 70,14% of the total bed numbers in accommodationestablishments. The category structure of the accommodations is nearly equally distributedamong 1-2 stars, 3 stars and 4-5 stars. In 2009, there were 2445 establishments with 93686 bedscategorised as 1-2 stars (or 32,6% of the total number of beds), 810 3-star establishments with94998 beds (33,05%), 234 4-star with 80545 beds (28,02%) and 44 5-star hotels with 18194 beds(6,33%) (NSI, 2010).
 3Transportation is still an issue in the development of the destination. Only 3 airports serveregular international flights (Sofia, Bourgas and Varna), while Plovdiv receives only charter flights. The highway ring of the country is still under construction for the last 30 years whichhinders the automobile transport.In 2008 Bulgaria welcomed 8.539 mln visitors, 4.766 mln of which (55,85%) came for holiday and recreation, 2.753 mln (32,26%) were transit travellers, while the rest one million(11,89%) came on business reasons, visiting friends and relatives or other purposes (seeAppendix 1). Most of the leisure tourists came from the EU countries which had a 79,17% share.It is not surprising that the major tourist generating markets for leisure tourists were theneighbouring Romania (933 000 leisure tourists or 19,60%) and Greece (762 000 leisure touristsor nearly 16%). Germany contributed to 11% of leisure tourist arrivals (523 000), the UK generated 329 000 (6,90%), while the CEE countries (Poland, Czech republic, Slovakia andHungary)
450 000 (9,44%). Tourists come to Bulgaria predominantly for vacation.The main products that currently attract tourists are:sea/sun/sand
in Sunny beach, Nessebar, Obzor, Sozopol to the South and GoldenSands, Albena, St. Constantine and Helena resort, Riviera, Kavarna, Balchik to the North Black sea coast.winter ski
in Pamporovo, Chepelare, Bansko, Razlog, Dobrinishte, Borovets.eco/rural
in the mountain areas like Rhodopes, Pirin, Rila, Stara planina.cultural
in the capital Sofia, the large cities like Varna, Bourgas, Plovdiv, Rousse, but also historical places like Veliko Tarnovo, Pliska, Preslav, Vidin, Koprivshtitsa, Karlovo,Kalofer, Panagyurishte, Batak etc.gambling
in Sofia and the seaside and mountain resorts (see Ivanova andAtanasova, 2009). balneology, spa and wellness
Kyustendil, Hissarya, Banya, Narechen, Mihalkovo,Velingrad, Varshets, etc (Yordanov, 2007).MICE tourism
Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna (Dimitrova and Hristova, 2004)cruise
Varna and Nessebar are popular ports of visit.Other types of tourism of tourism that are now developing and could be expanded includewine tourism (Rogashka and Ivanova, 2009), golf tourism (Nikolova and Stoyanova, 2009),communist heritage tourism (Ivanov, 2009). The increasing demand for special interest tourismin the world (see Table 1) is an opportunity that the country should embrace.

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