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(eTN) – After years of trying to attract foreign tourists, hotel owners were now turning to Bulgarians as potential clients, Dnevnik daily said.

(eTN) – After years of trying to attract foreign tourists, hotel owners were now turning to Bulgarians as potential clients, Dnevnik daily said.
The union of investors in tourism announced on December 4 that they would offer a 10 per cent discount over the lowest whole-sale price to Bulgarians, for reservations made between January 1 and March 31 2008. The reservations would have to be for 2008, after March.

The offer was the start of the campaign Bulgaria – Heaven for Bulgarians and was organised by Travel TV, who’s goal it was to return Bulgarians to Bulgarian holiday resorts.

Hotels built in the larger summer and winter resorts over the past couple of years, have become harder to fill. At the holiday fair in London, earlier this year, it became clear that foreign tourists in Bulgaria would not increase this year compared to last year. At the same time, Bansko, Pamporovo and Borovets have a 20 per cent increased bed capacity.
In the summer resorts the situation was similar, where construction of new hotels continues.

This made it necessary for hotel owners and tour operators to think about price strategies to try to attract those Bulgarians who started to go to the seaside in Greece and Turkey, or went to ski in Austria and Italy, where prices were the same as in Bulgaria, but quality was higher, Dnevnik daily said.

The reduction would be given when reservations were made through the centralised reservation system of the union, and would not be valid for the first three months of 2008. The goal of the reduction was to stimulate early reservations. For 2009, the reduction would be valid for the whole year.

The two largest touristic organisations in Bulgaria, the Association of Hoteliers (AH) and the Touristic Confederation (TC), would take part in the campaign Bulgaria – Heaven for Bulgarians. They still have to announce their concrete offers.

Bulgarian hotels and tour operators did not tend to offer attractively priced packages to Bulgarian tourists. Bulgarians would tend to make their own reservations at the hotel and pay reception prices, which would be several times higher than those agreed upon between hotels and foreigntour operators, Dnevnik said the companies explained.

The market had an overcapacity of beds and nothing would stop hotel owners to set aside capacity for Bulgarian tourists, as they do for foreign tourists, Nedyalka Sandalska, manager of Balkantourist and deputy chairperson of the TC, said.
According to her, hotels in Bulgaria traditionally would wait to see how many of the beds planned for foreign tourists would remain empty and only then would start selling those to Bulgarian tourists.

During the 2007 summer season, hotels along the Black Sea coast announced reductions for Bulgarians after the start of the season, when beds set aside for foreign tourists remained empty. Branch organisations expected the same trend to continue this winter season.

Donka Sokolova, chairperson of the Bulgarian association of tourist agencies, said that hoteliers and tour operators should start much earlier to plan the distribution of their bed capacity and offer to Bulgarian guests what they offer foreign tourists. According to her, if preparations were made on time, attracting Bulgarian tourists for the 2008 summer season would be successful.

Sandalska said that worldwide, the trend was for resorts to rely for 60 per cent on local market and 40 per cent on foreigners.

Baiko Baikov, chairperson of the Bulgarian association of tour operators and tourist agencies, said price was not the most important factor. Most important were clean surroundings, good circumstances in the resorts and on the beaches and good service.

Research by the Institute for analysis and assessment showed that price was relevant for a quarter of tourists, while for 40 per cent nature was most important.