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Lack of information impedes the development of SPA tourism

Sofia News Agency, 25.08.2011

“Sufficient information is the most important thing for a tourist destination,” H.E. Sheila Camerer, Ambassador of South Africa to Bulgaria, said at a meeting in Velingrad with the town’s Mayor Ivan Lebanov. The meeting was also attended by H.E. Tsvetan Simeonov, Chairman of BCCI (Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry). The aim of this visit was to acquaint the Ambassador with the potential of mineral waters in the region and the climatic advantages of the town. There are 45 hotels of 2 to 5 stars in Velingrad, 20 guest houses and 3 sanatoria, as well as 7 mineral public baths and 32 mineral pools, 20 of these - open-air. Development of bilateral relations in tourism was the idea behind the visit of H.E. Camerer in Velingrad.

According to branch representatives, however, it is difficult to attract tourists from South Africa due to the remoteness of the country. Bulgaria’s greatest potential is on huge markets such as Russia, Turkey and Romania. Of course, we should not underestimate the Western markets as well. We could attract more tourists from Israel, too.

However, the biggest problem of SPA tourism in Bulgaria is the lack of marketing and advertising. Our country is not recognisable as a SPA destination yet. SPA tourism generated revenues of $640 bn in 2010. At the same time, our country remains the destination offering the best ratio between value and price in Europe. The prices at the Bulgarian hotels and restaurants are about 45% of the average in the EU, while strong and soft drinks cost some 65% of the EU average, travel agencies comment.