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A new trend: Bulgarian tourists book early for the holidays

Photo: banskoski.com

The snow did not come late this year and the most impatient winter lovers are already exploring the ski slopes of Bulgaria’s winter resorts. Meanwhile, hoteliers and restaurateurs across the country are busy preparing for the Christmas and New Year holidays. More than half a million Bulgarians will travel around Bulgaria during the upcoming two long holiday weekends, according to a forecast by the Institute for Analysis and Evaluation in Tourism. Despite anti-epidemic measures to enter the country, an increase in the arrival of foreign tourists is also expected in the coming weeks. These are mostly guests from Bulgaria’s neighbouring Balkan countries, but there is also interest from visitors from Great Britain, Ireland, Poland, Scandinavia and Russia.

However, the travel industry relies mostly on the Bulgarian tourists who, during the pandemic,have reoriented almost entirely to domestic hotels. "Most of our accommodation facilities, guest houses and small family hotels have been 100% booked since a month ago and earlier," says Daria Zarichinova of the ReMark Tour Club, which includes owners of tourist sites in the Balkania region uniting the municipalities of Troyan, Teteven, Etropole and Apriltsi in the central part of Bulgaria. Traditionally, the region welcomes mostly Bulgarian tourists. "Everything was booked in advance with us. We are witnessing atypical behaviour on the part of our compatriots, who generally tend to book at the last minute," says Daria Zarichinova and adds:

"I hope this New Year will be different from last year's holidays, when there were restrictions on the opening hours of the sites. Then our hoteliers tried in every way to organize a pleasant New Year's Eve after 10 pm. Some even had an outdoor party with lights and other gadgets. But I think the situation will be calmer now, thanks to green certificates. Many of our guests and staff have been vaccinated. In addition to the festive table with a rich menu, our tourists will focus on hiking and cultural routes in the area”.

And isn't the introduction of the contested vaccination certificate having a positive effect on the industry despite all objections? "Our staff has been vaccinated almost 100%! The certificate gives us a peace of mind that reflects well on the season. In addition, people feel safe because hotels and restaurants strictly adhere to anti-epidemic measures,"says Malin Bistrin, chairman of the Union of Tourism Business in Bansko.

Малин Бистрин

"Despite the difficulties, the rising prices of energy, the fluctuations in bookings and the possibility of cancelling reservations at the last minute, we still have quite good interest for the holidays. We will have a very good season, mostly thanks to the Bulgarian tourists. There is also interest from foreigners. But there the possibility of last minute cancellation makes these registrations somewhat uncertain, depending on where Bulgaria is on the world health map. Currently about 80-85% of our hotel accommodation facilities are already booked. The reason is that this year Bulgarians made their bookings for the holidays early. And the foreigners who vacationed in Bansko last year are now coming back,"Malin Bistrin concluded.

English version Rositsa Petkova

Photos: banskoski.com, library
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