At the beginning of the summer, there was a serious discussion about the crisis of summer tourism in the country. The discussion began at the end of June and early July, i.e. it focused entirely on the state of summer tourism in June. The main ones are that 1) summer tourism in June is in crisis (the beaches are empty) and 2) Bulgarians are fleeing the native Black Sea coast and overwhelmingly prefer Greece (border congestion). Today we already have INS data for tourism in June and we can shed some light on the veracity of the above claims.
Let’s start with a few clarifications. First, we will be able to comment on the summer season as a whole when we have data for June, July and August – June is the weakest month of the three months and does not always accurately predict events during the season. However, the broad discussion of the events of June deserves a reasoned response with data. Secondly, we use official INS data for all accommodation units with more than 10 beds – small single beds do not fit here, which hides some data, especially for nights spent by Bulgarians. Thirdly, we are not focusing on general country data, but specifically on tourism in the maritime regions – these are Burgas, Varna and Dobrich. In places we collect Varna and Dobrich as indicators of North versus South (Burgas). The specific indicator we are looking at is not just the number of overnight stays, but the actual overnight stays spent in accommodation in the three zones – can be seen as an indicator of tourist man-days at sea.
Before going into the details of tourism in June 2019, it is good to make two general observations. The first is that summer tourism in Bulgaria is much more dependent on foreigners than on Bulgarians. The nights spent by foreigners are five times that of Bulgarians in Burgas and eight times in Varna. The difference between the income of accommodation establishments is even greater – seven times in Burgas and 10 times in Varna in favor of income from nights spent by foreigners. The second is that we should also take longer term trends into account, and not just look at the change this year from the last. The latter is particularly important when looking at the representation of North from South and the opening of a particular chisel in between.
The overall picture for June 2019 (compared to June 2018) shows different developments in the three areas. In Burgas, for example, there was a decrease in the number of nights spent by Bulgarian citizens in the 22,000 overnight stays (-7.1%), which is however completely offset by an increase in the number of foreigners of 35 000 nights (+ 2.2%. Accommodation revenue in June also increased by almost BGN 6 million, reaching BGN 92 million, both due to most foreigners and some price increases .
The North is in the opposite situation – a drop in the number of overnight stays with foreigners and in Varna – by almost 48,000 (-5.3%) and in Dobrich – by around 25,000 (-6.9%). In the north, however, an increase is recorded in the nights of Bulgarians – despite a slight decrease in Varna to less than 1,500 fewer nights of Bulgarians (-1.3%), there is a solid increase of almost 12 000 nights for Bulgarians in Dobrich (+ 16.9%). The good news is that the growth of overnight stays for Bulgarians in Dobrich (the maritime municipalities are Balchik, Kavarna and Shabla) continues for the third year now – from 51,000 nights in June 2016 to 81,000 in June 2019. in the north, in June they are 73 million BGN, while in Dobrich they remain similar, while in Varna they decrease by more than 2 million BGN due to the smaller number of foreigners.
Despite some positive developments – the growth of foreigners in Burgas and the growth of Bulgarians in Dobrich, overall there has been a drop in the number of nights spent in June, caused mainly by the smaller number of foreigners in the North. It should be noted, however, that this slight decrease comes after a period of three years of stable growth. This is clearly visible in the graph showing the movement of the nights performed in the North and the South, with a division of Bulgarians and foreigners. In this general context, one can hardly speak of the tragedy of summer tourism, especially in the context of the tangible drop in the number of foreigners since 2015. The graph also shows the opening of the scissors between the North and the South, both the last year only for foreigners. and in general for foreigners. Bulgarians. In June, Burgas hits Varna and Dobrich seriously with regard to Bulgarian tourists – at 166,000 Bulgarian nights in Burgas compared to 152,000 in Varna and Dobrich in June 2012, they are now 292,000-190,000 in favor of Burgas (June 2019).
The last question remains to be answered, namely whether the Bulgarians fled en masse to Greece? For this purpose, we use data on trips of Bulgarian citizens abroad. They show that in June 2019, 135,000 Bulgarian citizens traveled to Greece, which is a real increase compared to the previous 3-4 years. However, keep in mind that before the crisis (2008-2009), these trips in June reached over 180,000 – caused by a large number of business trips to our neighbor to the south 10 years ago.
To make a comparison with the Bulgarians’ journeys to the Black Sea, we will use the number of nights, and not the nights spent. The big picture shows that in June 2019 146,000 Bulgarian citizens spent the night on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast and 135,000 Bulgarians visited Greece. However, it should be borne in mind that not all travel to Greece on vacation – 75,000 of those 135,000 explicitly stated this reason, while others indicated either a “business goal” or “another”. goal”. In June 2016, the overnight stays of Bulgarians on the Black Sea coast were 117,000, while those going to Greece were 99,000. In other words, Bulgarian tourists in the three maritime regions of the country are still beating as much as those who visited Greece in June. In general, the trend for both is upwards, so it’s questionable whether the relationship will turn out at any given time.