“Very few countries may have on their credit a growth of 20% in tourism”, Aneliya Krushkova, Chairwoman of the State Agency for Tourism:
Aneliya Krushkova is a graduate in the specialty of “Economics and Management of Transport” at the University of National and World Economy – Sofia. She has completed specializations in Marketing and Management in Germany, and Budgeting and Control in Switzerland. In the period from 2003 to 2005 Mrs. Krushkova held the position of a Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications. Since 1st February 2007 she is the Chairwoman of the State Agency for Tourism. She is also the co-founder of the Bulgarian-Italian Chamber and of the Business Club “Women – Managers in Bulgaria”, as she is also a member of the Bulgarian-Swiss Association.
Mrs. Krushkova, did the number of the tourists visited Bulgaria increased this year?
Yes, it did. In the first seven months of this year Bulgaria was visited by 15.6% more tourists comparing to the same period in 2007. I suppose that as at the end of the current year we will mark a growth of approximately 20%. From all people who visited Bulgaria in the period from January to July the country had an income of EUR 1 milliard and 454 million, i.e. 12.1% more than the same period in the preceding year. We are a preferred tourist destination for countries, such as Romania, Germany, Great Britain, and Russia.
What is the profile of the tourist in Bulgaria in the summer 2008?
The result from a research for the summer 2008, made by the order of the Agency for Tourism, were presented in the end of October. Of all 3400 foreign citizens inquired, 53% were men and 47% were women. Their age was between 26 and 45 years old, as 63% of all had higher education. 76% of all foreign guests were on the beach during their summer stay in our country; 49% estimated the merits of the extreme water sports; 25% took the opportunity to have SPA procedures; 19% took the opportunity to get acquainted with the ethnographic tourism; 18% – with the ecological tourism; 16% – with the business; and 16% – with the religious tourism. Among the Bulgarian tourists who took part in the inquiry, 69% went on a holiday to the seaside, and 31% – to the mountain. 52% of them were women, and the others – men. Their age is between 26 and 45 years /72%/, as 53% of them had higher education.
What were the tourists’ recommendations to our country?
The foreigners said that Bulgaria was a beautiful country but there was the need of paying more attention to the resort cleanness, to end the construction works, the forests clearing, and to put an end to the phenomenon of sulky café waiters. Bulgarian tourists are also not satisfied with the excessive building-up, and want more peace, as well as due conditions for the children’s entertainment.
In September You took part in a meeting of the ministries of tourism of the EU countries held in Bordeaux. What were the directions presented for the development of tourism?
Europe remains the main generating tourism market – 87% of the world tourist flow comes from the Old Continent. It is expected that as at 2020 Europe will be visited by 717 million tourists, as according to the EU it will be the North and East Europe to mark the growth. We need to take advantage of this tendency and decide which will be the products we will offer. According to the EU, gastronomy and wine, small towns and villages, holidays and concerts will be the attractive points. If we want to mark success on the tourism market, then we need to take into consideration the recommendations above, as I would call them a “success recipe”. It was also at this meeting that it became clear that the new markets for Europe, which have potential for longer than the next couple of years, but for decades forward, are China, Japan and Korea. Bulgaria need to consider the things it can offer to the tourist coming from these countries, and the due way to present these things. There should be also attention paid to India. There were 7 million people from this country who travelled in Europe in 2006. It was interesting for me to understand that 40% of all 100 million pensioners in Europe have never travelled in their lives. They are also potential tourists for Bulgaria and wait for our offer. The debates were also useful for another reason, namely how to create a common brand for few neighbouring countries. A good example given in connection with the above was the experience of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. These three countries have united and present themselves all over the world as one tourist destination with a common brand, a common logo and a common tourist programme. The great battle in the forthcoming years will be about the drawing of tourists by continents, but not by countries.
How is Bulgaria being advertised on the foreign markets?
Each destination has its own face, both literally and figuratively. We need to personalize Bulgaria, to find that thing, which identifies us. This is a problem that needs to be solved with the help of everyone – the society, and mostly the tourism industry. The procedure for the selection and enforcement of the vision of a specific destination requires a lot of resources and involvement. The latest advertising initiatives are the branding of the car of our best motor contestant Plamen Kralev with the Bulgarian rose. We are currently under a process of negotiating an advertisement for trucks for international transport, as well as an advertisement on the packages of food products for sale in the Central European countries.
Will the world financial crisis affect the field of tourism?
There is no way for the financial crisis not to affect tourism as well. The question is who benefits from this, to what extent, and what is the benefit from all the chaos connected with this crisis. It is for sure that the investment projects will be reviews, for the current crediting itself is not the crediting it used to be. However, on the background of the global crisis it may turn out that if we behave well, we may be the winning party, for the decrease of the possibility for having a holiday and the expenses for having a holiday will make a great part of the tourists come to a little cheaper place, such as Bulgaria. Here they may have dividends. Everything rests with the private business.
And will be there a negative impact of the crisis on the forthcoming winter season?
As a whole, there is certain depression in the reservations, for people plan their recourse better and more precisely. The hotel-keepers themselves say that there is a waiting period regarding the reservations. Maybe the measures undertaken by West Europe for overcoming the crisis will open the reservations.