Bulgaria 'to Net €3 Billion From Tourism'


Bulgaria’s tourist industry is expected to gain 6.5 billion lev (€3.25 billion) this year, the chairman of the Bulgarian Tourist Chamber has said. Tsvetan Tonchev predicted five billion lev (€2.5 billion) should come from foreign tourists, while the rest of the revenues would be generated by Bulgarians. The country's tourist sector is currently accumulating around up to 20 million lev (€10 million) every day, according to the Bulgarian Tourist Chamber. Tonchev said that the number of the holiday-makers at Bulgarian seasides had risen by 15 per cent. “It’s not true that it’s cheaper to spend your vacation in Greece or Turkey. Hotel prices in Bulgaria have fallen by 20-30 per cent,” he noted. Cheaper prices and better customer services have lured many Bulgarians to Greek and Turkish resorts in recent years. But Bulgarians are staying locally this summer, statistics show as trips to the two neighbouring countries take a sharp drop. At the same time, more foreigners from Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Israel and Belarus are also choosing Bulgaria as their summer holiday destination. Meanwhile, hotel revenues shrank by seven per cent, reaching 144 million lev (€122 million) for the second quarter of the year, according to the National Statistical Institute. Tonchev stressed that one of the biggest problems in the local tourist industry the "grey" economy in the sector, which according to him, accounts for up to 50 per cent of revenue. Two weeks ago, local tax officials launched a series of inspections of bars and night clubs around the coast in an investigation into possible tax evasion. Tax authorities have so far discovered 300,000 lev (€150,000) in unpaid taxes.