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Easter holidays – a breath of fresh air for hoteliers in Sandanski and Velingrad

Bulgarian spa resorts of Sandanski and Velingrad are expected to be full on Easter (May 2) and St. George's Day (May 6). The owners of local hotels and restaurants follow the health regulations related to the coronavirus pandemic and the prices remain unchanged.

Despite the pandemic, many Bulgarians have chosen Sandanski and Velingrad for the holidays. And the so-called post-Covid recovery programs offered in the two resorts are a good opportunity to restart spa tourism in Bulgaria. The bed capacity in the hotels and guest houses in Sandanski is approximately 4,000 beds. All hotels will work, and occupancy is expected to be over 90 percent, says Georgi Kunchev – deputy chairman of the association of hoteliers in the Sandanski, adding: "We see light at the end of the tunnel and I think things will turn out quite well for Easter."

Apart from nature and mineral water, cultural and historical landmarks are also an attraction for tourists, Georgi Kunchev believes. Wine tourism in the vicinity of Sandanski has not stopped developing in recent years, as the wineries in the area are over 10. They produce unique wines and welcome tourists from around the world. According to Kunchev, before the coronavirus pandemic, foreign tourists who visited Sandanski were over 60%, and now there are very few guests from abroad. Local hoteliers also rely heavily on visitors from Bulgaria’s neighbouring countries.

"We expect things to calm down, borders to be opened, restrictions be removed so Greeks and Macedonians can start travelling again. This is 100% certain. We keep in touch with colleagues from the industry in both countries, and we are eagerly waiting for things to resume.”

All hotels are prepared to welcome guests for the Easter holidays in the other favourite destination for Bulgarian tourists - the Rhodope spa resort Velingrad. The spring period is traditionally weaker for the resort town and the occupancy of the accommodation bases is expected to be around 70 percent.

Some hotels have reduced price offers, we learn from Zlatko Zlatanov, chairman of the local Association of Hoteliers. In addition, this spring there are indications to cancel reservations in the town in favour of Greek resorts. The Bulgarian government must at all costs open green corridors for travellers from Russia and Romania to compensate for this deficit, Zlatko Zlatanov said. The Association of Hoteliers believes that Velingrad is the fastest recovering destination. It relies on a higher class product. They ensure that guests are well cared for in smaller facilities, too. Those working in the industry emphasize the additional attractions and alternative forms of tourism, Zlatko Zlatanov explains and adds:

"We already have many beautiful small farms in the villages, whose owners are learning how to be attractive and draw the interest of tourists. The dams around us are also starting to develop faster as tourist destinations. Amidst the pandemic people are already looking for privacy and smaller hotels and guest houses," says Zlatko Zlatanov in conclusion.

Written by Mila Mladenova

Edited by Veneta Nikolova

English version Rositsa Petkova

Photos: library

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