Bulgaria’s emergence as a leisure destination has been validated by figures from the Sophia government which show that 149K Britons visited the country in the first seven months of the year, 48K of whom turned up in July. The figures show the number of visitors for ‘leisure and recreation purposes'. During the first six months of the year, just over 100K Britons visited the country, a 66% improvement over the first half of 2003.The big four UK tour operators have been talking up Bulgaria as a cost-effective destination for package holidays compared with traditional destinations where prices have been impacted by the strength of the euro against sterling.Earlier this year, TUI Northern Europe chief executive Peter Rothwell told the ITB exhibition in Berlin that ‘ the impact of the strengthening euro has driven up prices and consequently bookings to Spain have slowed. The non-euro zone countries, particularly the eastern Med, are enjoying a growth in bookings’.This summer MyTravel featured Bulgaria for the first time, including it as a peak season destination for its Airtours Holidays brand. The figures from the Bulgarian government show more Germans during the half than Britons, with 165K visitors representing a 7% improvement on 03. Greece is still the country’s largest inbound market, with 339K visitors in the half, 54% up on 03.