Bulgaria’s winter tourism season has surpassed expectations, with a remarkable 25% increase in foreign visitors compared to initial projections. According to Prof. Rumen Draganov, director of the Institute for Analyzes and Evaluations in Tourism, the country welcomed over 2.1 million tourists from abroad during the winter season, significantly exceeding the anticipated 1.7 million visits.

Among these visitors, approximately 200 thousand engaged in skiing and snowboarding activities, although their primary purpose for visiting Bulgaria varied. Many came to the country to visit relatives and friends, conduct business, indulge in balneo, spa, and wellness activities, explore wine regions, or immerse themselves in cultural tourism experiences.

Prof. Draganov highlighted that a notable portion of foreign tourists were exploring urban historical environments in cities such as Sofia, Plovdiv, Tarnovo, Stara Zagora, Varna, Burgas, and Ruse. Notably, 58% of the tourists hailed from European Union countries, with Turkey and Great Britain leading the influx of visitors from non-EU nations.

Looking ahead, Prof. Draganov emphasized that Bulgaria is gearing up for a robust summer tourism season. Advance bookings are already showing promising signs, with a 20% increase in the German market and nearly 70% surge in the UK market. These figures suggest a restoration of key tourism markets, with expectations of surpassing 5.2 million tourist nights in accommodation during the summer months.

Furthermore, repeat visitation rates reflect positively on Bulgaria’s tourism appeal, with 38% of German tourists and a remarkable 72% from the Polish market expressing a desire to return to the country. Prof. Draganov also highlighted Bulgaria’s strong presence in online search engines for tourist destinations, underscoring the country’s competitive position in the global tourism market.

While celebrating these achievements, Prof. Draganov acknowledged that challenges persist in tourism management. However, he stressed the importance of self-confidence and the world-class tourist products that Bulgaria offers, urging continued efforts to capitalize on the country’s tourism potential.