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Crisis made Greeks more attentive

29 April 2010 / 10:04:28  GRReporter
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If we have to compare a 10 day vacation in Bulgaria and in Greece, what would be the advantages and disadvantages of both? 

A ten-day vacation in both places would cost the same money to a Bulgarian, especially when it comes to resorts in northern Greece. If we consider the area around Thessaloniki and Khalkidhiki, the road by car is the same as the one to the Bulgarian seaside. People have already learned the way to there and it has become a popular destination for Bulgarians. The only thing more expensive in Greece is food. Restaurants and taverns are much more expensive than the ones in Bulgaria. If food is pre-organized and paid for, prices are generally the same. In Turkey is just the opposite, the food is much cheaper even than the average offer in our resorts, but for Turkey we said it is for peaceful holidays. If you want to party the destinations are Bulgaria and Greece. All this does not mean that we are underrating Bulgaria as a tourist destination. Here we have very nice and large luxury hotel complexes. In fact, I can safely say that we have many more luxury hotels than in Greece. The construction sector has helped about it, we are even slightly overpopulated. Consider, for example, Sunny Beach. It is a great resort, but if I go there with my son on vacation, I will definitely not feel good. The reason is that my child won’t be able to sleep until four in the morning because of the music in nightclubs, which are everywhere. On the other hand, it is fun place and it attracts many young people who want to have fun and relax - distinctive features are clubs, music, luxury, plus the sea and beach. Actually speaking, it does not differ very much from Spain, which also has overcrowded resorts, but it is fun. 

But overall the level of services today in Bulgaria is much higher compared with few years ago, and for the first time the country makes serious steps towards improving domestic tourism. For the first time we are beginning to pay attention to incoming tourists, i.e. foreigners who want to relax in our resorts. The quality of services has improved and we are contributing to the positive impressions that our beautiful country can leave in the guests mind. Bulgaria has something to show as a tourist destination - we have sea, we have beautiful mountains, like the Rhodope Mountains, Pirin, Rila, unique nature everywhere. If we are better organized, more fair and more tolerant, tourism would be even stronger in the country. 

Greek-tourists in Bulgaria? 

Greek tourists love Bulgaria and visit our country mainly in winter. They go to Borovets, Bansko, and recently to tourist flow to Pamporovo has increased, after the opening of the new border point… The new road shortened travel time, and Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains and Pamporovo are wonderful and have very good conditions for winter sports. 

What would you recommend to Bulgarian hoteliers? 

Maybe they still have to work on the issue of being more hospitable and certainly they need to reduce prices. I cannot disregard the fact that many luxury hotels were built in Bulgaria, without understanding why it is necessary to have so much luxury. Maybe in Dubai it makes sense, but there they can afford it (laughs). Most likely, these hotels have many operational costs, which is one reason not to cut prices. Throughout the whole world we can see nice, pleasant places where you can feel comfortable. They are attractive, friendly and have good food and all this can be found in one place without having to be surrounded by great luxury. While in Bulgaria we emphasize on luxury and the rest of the services, in many cases, are lacking. Another problem is the lack of good communication with tour operators and the lack of good marketing. This is a big mistake. The conclusion is that Bulgarian hoteliers must learn to work more and be better as a whole, everything else we have in abundance. 

How is rural tourism developing in Bulgaria and what is the interest of foreign tourists? 

We have unique resorts in this regard. In the Rhodope Mountains for example we have Leshten, Kovachevitsa, Nagoren and others, which are constantly full. These are old Rhodope villages that have been renovated and upgraded and operate as hotel complexes. The authentic Rhodope style has been kept, while all amenities of modern life are offered. There is a traditional pub with good food and people are hospitable. 

How do you think the crisis  will affect this business in Bulgaria and Europe? 

My business is not large. Certainly there were some months where I was on the edge. Now things are better, but not like last year. This time last season I had more reservations than I have now. They say that now is the bottom of the crisis in Bulgaria and I can definitely feel it. However, this crisis was essential, because when a person works well and a lot, as we should all work, one passes this difficulty. Now we have a sieve, which is very necessary and the best will remain. In tourism one cannot be incorrect and we cannot afford to do things without precision. Customers now have a higher standard and they value their money. They do not easily trust people, that will be served well.

Tags: Greece Bulgaria Turkey tourism hotela discounts
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