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Bulgarian Tourism Troubles?

A body, self called the ‘Prognosis and Analysis Institute of Tourism’ has just stated what everyone has known for months but has never cared to say; that the country’s revenue generated from tourism this year will be 25% down on last years figure. The statement is probably accurate, as anyone with their eyes and ears open will testify, as is the fact that visitor numbers to the country will be down around 10% year on year. ‘We’ know this already and so do most of the educated people involved in travel. Indeed regular readers of Jam Advice travel publications will have read pretty much the same information for several months. Thus you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to make these claims (and we know this body reads our articles!

The real question that emanates from all this is ‘what will be done to rectify matters?’ Another pertinent question is ‘whether the personnel involved in travel across the country are capable and experienced enough to know what is required in such a scenario.’ The two answers, though no-ones fault, may be ‘no’ and ‘no’. Thus, if the words ‘terminal decline’ were used as a prefix to the words ‘local tourism industry’ then it would be a hard to argue against its accuracy.

However, whilst the tourism product has clear problems moving forward for a variety of well documented reasons, it is worth adding a word of caution concerning the use of ‘year on year’ figures.

Bulgaria has only known boom and not bust for the past decade or more, it is not feasible for every industry or business to grow exponentially year after year after year.

If figures for 2009 slip back to 2007 levels or even 2006 levels, is that a disaster? Possibly not. The fixation with year on year figures might actually have a greater psychological effect on people than it perhaps should. 2007 was better than 2005 which in turn was better than 2001. Get the point? This may be glossing over the longer term issues but fatality might be overstressed.

Let’s consider the position now to be a wake up call: many businesses already have had their wake up and reacted on it. Can tourism do the same?

Mark Thomas, Jam Advice HRG