WTM London: A packed programme of meetings to boost Bulgaria’s presence in foreign tourism markets

08 November 2022

The UK market is expected to recover in 2023 and grow by 30% in 2024.

On the first day of the exhibition in London, Minister of Tourism Ilin Dimitrov held more than 10 high-level meetings with leading representatives of the tourism industry as part of his busy programme. The focus of the meetings were talks with airlines and leading tour operators on the Island, such as Flynas, Jet2holidays, Fraport and Lufthansa Group.  

In his talks with Flynas, the minister assured that Bulgaria is seeking to enter new markets like Saudi Arabia by promoting the destination and tourism opportunities. In response, the company’s representatives assured that they want to establish themselves in the Bulgarian market and have a specific interest in our country, which they said has everything – mountains, sea, cultural and historical sites and many other opportunities for tourism. They are particularly interested in mineral waters – a rich resource with great potential.  

Nearly 30% growth in British tourists to the Bulgaria market is expected for 2024, with pre-pandemic levels to be reached next year. This was announced by the number two tour operator in the British market, Jet2holidays, at a meeting with the Bulgarian Tourism Minister. The company already has 64,000 places booked for Bulgaria for 2024. It was reported that they expect to double their fleet in two years. A number of marketing activities were discussed to attract British tourists and rebuild this market. Minister Dimitrov encouraged family travel from the UK, assuring that our country offers great conditions for this type of holiday. The letter sent by the Ministry of Tourism to the European Commission to reinstate the subsidy of 35 euros per seat, similar to the measure that expired and provided substantial support to tour operators during the pandemic, was also the subject of the talks.

At the Bulgarian stand, Minister Dimitrov also held a working meeting with the representatives of the English organization of tour operators - ABTA, where they presented their activities and discussed promotional activities between the professional organization and Bulgarian tour operators, as well as how the state can facilitate and assist this communication process. The Association of British Tour Operators and Travel Agents has over 4,300 members providing a wide coverage of services in the business and holiday travel sector.

According to border checkpoint data for the period January – August 2022, Bulgaria has been visited by 252,266 tourists, which is an increase of 8.5 times compared to the period January – August 2021.

By comparison, last 2021 the total number of visits by British tourists to accommodation and own properties was around 30 thousand for the same period, January to August 2021, a fall of 62%.

Leading destinations for British tourists are the capital, the municipalities of Nessebar, Varna and Plovdiv.

In 2020, more than 90 thousand visits of British tourists were reported and a decline of 81%. Not all British tourists stayed overnight in accommodation, with some staying in their own properties, particularly in Bansko and on the Black Sea coast.

During the World Travel Market in London, the chairperson of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association Jason Ferguson visited Bulgaria’s stand. He was welcomed by the Minister of Tourism Ilin Dimitrov, PhD. They discussed the opportunities for sport and tourism in one. Among the topics of conversation was the European Snooker Championship, which will be held from 4 to 17 June 2023 in the resort complex Albena. They also discussed the possibility of our country returning to the world snooker map by hosting a major ranking tournament, which will be an image-building event for our country.

On the first day of his visit, Minister Dimitrov gave a special interview to the world media “Euronews”, in which the main topic was Bulgaria’s recovery from the crises. He also commented on the vision for modern tourism and development policies – especially through the prism of climate change.


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