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Bulgaria attracts young tourists, neighbours

Date: 24.10.2007

Bulgaria was visited by 4,5 M tourists in the first nine months of 2007, an increase of 7% over the same period of last year, Bulgaria's top tourism official said Monday.

The country has started attracting an increasing number of young holiday-makers and tourists from eastern Europe, the head of Bulgaria's state tourism agency Anelia Krushkova told reporters.

The number of middle-aged tourists visiting the country with their families, however, is on the decline, Krushkova said, quoting the data of a survey conducted among tourists who visited the country this summer.

Bad service and the high noise levels, from ongoing construction in particular, were the main complaints, while cuisine, entertainment and nightlife got the highest marks, she added.

The data is corroborating the media reports that Bulgaria is rising fast among the travelling preferences of holiday-makers looking for "alcohol tourism" destinations, especially from northern European countries, who are drawn to Bulgaria by the low prices of alcoholic drinks.

Foreigners visiting Bulgaria have spent EUR 340 on average, with 70% preferring three- and four-star hotels.

Bulgarians have not lagged far behind, spending an average of EUR 300, but prefer more modest accommodations.

Despite a rising number of tourists from eastern European countries, Bulgaria's entry to the EU in January and the subsequent introduction of visas for Serbian and Macedonian nationals have drastically decreased their numbers this year, causing an estimated BGN 250 M in lost revenue, Krushkova said.

But that has had little impact on the sector as a whole, with revenues rising by 17% in the first nine months of the year, she added, without providing explicit figures.

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