In a recent roundtable discussion on “Travel, Leisure, and Consumers,” Bulgaria’s Tourism Policy Directorate presented compelling statistical evidence showcasing the country’s resilience as a tourist destination amid global challenges. Despite the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and regional conflicts, the tourism sector is experiencing a remarkable recovery, surpassing expectations.

Maya Nikovska, Director of the Tourism Policy Directorate, shared optimistic data, revealing that the tourist flow has rebounded to over 90%. Projections for the summer season in 2023 estimate reservations in Bulgaria to reach 4.5 million, with recent data for September indicating an 8.6% increase compared to the same period last year and a 4.3% rise compared to 2019.

Sonia Spasova, Director of the European Consumer Center – Bulgaria, highlighted a significant drop in complaints related to holiday bookings and vacations, underscoring improved satisfaction among consumers. However, challenges persist, with a notable portion of consumers remaining uninformed about their rights and obligations.

Stoil Alipiev, Chairman of the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC), emphasized the commission’s commitment to ensuring comprehensive control over compliance with tourism and consumer protection laws, prioritizing consumer interests. Ignat Arsenov, Director of the “Market Control” Directorate at CPC, flagged the escalating risks associated with online booking of travel packages, including financial scams.

To address these issues, Pavlina Ilieva from the “Future for Tourism” Association announced the preparation of a “Charter for the User of Tourist Services.” The charter aims to educate consumers about their rights and expectations when engaging with tour operators and travel agencies.

Despite these initiatives, concerns were raised about the lack of information among users. Donyo Markov from the major tourist intermediary asserted that the state and institutions should play a crucial role in providing users with essential information, fostering a responsible information-sharing environment.

As Bulgaria’s tourism sector continues its upward trajectory, stakeholders are collectively working towards ensuring consumer awareness, safeguarding against risks, and fostering a more informed and empowered traveler.