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Is summer season at the seaside starting to get off the ground?

Photo: Krasimir Martinov

The Covid-19 pandemic has proved devastating for many sectors of Bulgaria’s economy, including summer tourism. We are so used to saying that the months of July and August are “high season”, but no longer. Owing to the corona crisis we are now seeing the number of holidaymakers along the Bulgarian Black Sea coastline plummet.

BNR’s reporters checked how things stand on the spot in the first days of July, and ascertained that the biggest, most expensive and most elite resorts are actually the ones hit hardest by the corona crisis. In many places 4 and 5-star hotel complexes look more like ghost towns. And the opposite is true – in the smaller tourism destinations, affordable for the average tourists, the season seems to be picking up.

There are only around 40 hotels open to tourists in Bulgaria’s biggest Black Sea resort, Sunny Beach. They strictly observe the epidemic requirements but in many of them the staff outnumbers the tourists, BNR’s correspondent in Bourgas Daniela Kostadinova reports. There is no one to use the beach beds or the umbrellas, the central promenades are empty of people, long lines of taxis wait for hours for a client, sometimes for days.

“The situation is desperate. There are no clients, there are no tourists, there is nothing,” one taxi drivers say. “Maybe in the coming days there will be foreigners coming but for the moment there are very few. For the month of July that is nothing. We have taken steps against the coronavirus – we are washing our hands constantly, we are wearing masks. And we are waiting for clients.”

There are only 8-10 charter flights a day registered at Bourgas airport, compared to 50 a day in previous years.

“Tourism is among the sectors which the Covid crisis hit hardest, it is also the sector that will be slowest to recover,” Konstantin Zankov, expert at the Institute for Analysis and Assessment in Tourism commented for the BNR. “We are seeing a huge downturn, flights are being cancelled. Countries which are crucial to tourism in Bulgaria and in the world have practically sealed their borders for outbound tourism. Russia is one of these countries. But Russia is a country which generates a major tourist flow, including towards this country. The situation is dynamic and is changing constantly. But people should not stop travelling. It is obvious we shall continue to live in a Covid reality. We just have to take precautions and manage the risks properly.”

Holidaymakers have this year turned their attention to lesser known destinations, such as guest houses and small hotels, Konstantin Zankov comments further. And campsites seem now to be the hit of the season. Along the southern portion of the Black Sea coastline they are practically full up, says Elena Dimitrova from BNR-Bourgas. And that is only natural knowing the seclusion this form of summer tourism offers.

“The number of tourists is up by 10% this year compared to last year,” says Elena Pinelova, manager of one of the popular campsites in this country – Gradina.

Tourists from Romania are traditional for the northern portion of the Black Sea coastline. BNR’s Daniela Stoynova talked to Cantimiro Tulcea who is a fan of the Bulgarian seaside.

“I love it here, I come every year. I came for four days and will be here until Friday. I like the Black Sea, the climate is very good. And Bulgaria is very nice!

Compiled and edited by Krasimir Martinov

Photos: Krasimir Martinov and Gradina Campsite

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