Bulgarians may not be considered “high level” tourists — their average per capita expenditure per trip does not exceed 500 euros — but this year, they’ve flooded Greek summer destinations in northern Greece. Their arrival has helped balance the recent decline in Russian tourists to Greece.
According to Bulgaria’s Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agencies, one in three agencies that organized trips outside the country in 2014 opted for vacations to Greece. Meanwhile, the number of tourists who combined a vacation destination in southern Bulgaria with northern Greece has increased by 15% this year.
Bulgarians showed a preference for Halkidiki; of 600,000 tourists who visited the area in late August, 80,000 were Bulgarians. Most come by car.
On average, Bulgarian tourists stay in Greece for seven days; there are many, however, who opt for a weekend trip. In addition to Halkidiki, they also flock to the Ionian islands, Parga and Sivota, while a few charter flights from Sofia to Crete and Rhodes.
The purchasing power of Bulgarians is not tremendous. But Greek hotel owners do not seem to be complaining; most are relieved that their hotels are full despite the noticeable decline in Russian tourists to Greece this year.
According to official data released by the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises, Bulgarian tourist arrivals in 2013 approached 700,000. Yet the real number cannot be determined with complete accuracy. Many Bulgarians come to Greece just to work seasonally. Nevertheless, it is generally estimated that the number of Bulgarian visitors to Greece in 2014 will show about a 20% increase.