TOURISM BAROMETER: Travel is good for you
In the first nine months of this year, about 3.289 million Bulgarians traveled abroad in what was a 4.7 per cent increase on the year, provisional data of the National Statistics Institute (NSI) released on November 2 showed.
During the same period, 3.9 million foreigners visited Bulgaria, according to the same report. The total number of foreigners having Bulgaria as transit or final destination came in at 6.76 million people, an 8.9 per cent increase against the January-September period last year.
To Bulgarians, the top three destinations - both for tourism and business purposes - were neighbouring countries Turkey, Greece and Serbia.
Bulgarians who headed to Turkey for tourism purposes totalled 907 653 individuals, while 706 000 went to Turkey for business.
Greece was the destination of choice for 614 000 Bulgarians in January-September, of which 231 000 were on holiday and 302 000 went as business people.
The tourism-only numbers rank the same three countries, but in the order Greece-Serbia-Turkey.
Serbia and Germany were the third and fourth most frequently visited countries with the numbers being at 157 000 and 115 400, respectively.
Bulgarians made 922 000 foreign trips for tourism purposes, while about 1.8 million were business trips.
The UK and the Czech Republic enjoyed enhanced interest on the part of Bulgaria, while interest toward Finland and Sweden has dwindled, the NSI report reveals.
In the foreign tourism column, Romania is atop of the ranking with 576 000 visitors, the NSI report says. Germany and Greece hold the second and third places with 522 000 and 507 000 visitors for the nine-month period, respectively.
Turkey and Romania hold the first and second places in terms of transit travels through Bulgaria with, respectively, 681 000 and 657 000 visitors. The January-September period had also seen a substantial increase in the number of German transit visitors. At 166 000 people, the figure represented a tangible mark-up on the 135 400 figure reported during the entire year 2006.
Local media drew attention to a substantial discrepancy in foreign tourism figures of the State Tourism Agency (STA) and the NSI on a number of countries.
While the STA sees the number of Turkish visitors in the January-September period at 208 638 people, the NSI reported 153 000 people.
The same holds true for Macedonian visitor numbers. According to the STA, the number of Macedonian tourists was 107 000, while according to the NSI the number was 56 540. About 40 254 Macedonians gave “other” as the goal of their visit.
The collective discrepancy in the tourist numbers of Romanian, English, German, Greek and Russian tourists is in the 50 000 to 100 000 range.