Summer 2014: the Bulgarians welcome everyone

Summer 2014: the Bulgarians welcome everyone

This summer promises to be contradictory for the main European resort countries. Emerging trends of market’s growth recover were a bit confused by the Russian – Ukrainian crisis and jumps in exchange rates. But, Bulgaria apparently is not planning to suffer from any tourist or price decrease.

Alarming outlooks apply only to rental markets and hotel service. Bulgarian tour operators complain that this year country is poorly advertised on the West: in Germany and the UK. That is why, says Bayko Bajkov, Head of the Tour Operators and Travel Agents Association (ABTTA), in this season western tourists are by 20% less active in pre booking of tours. However, there is no any other coastal country that may compete with Bulgaria offering "all inclusive" in Sunny Beach and Golden Sands for western tourists at ridiculous prices. Therefore, the Germans and the British will come and will form significant share of tourists.

Summer 2014: the Bulgarians welcome everyone | Photo 1 | ee24

Leaders of leaders

Although, they still cannot compete with tourists from Russia and Ukraine. In the season the coast is invaded with thousand of vehicles with Ukrainians numbers; even in previous years Bulgaria used to be more attractive for the Ukrainians than own Crimea: service is better, prices are lower, the sea is cleaner and geographically it is located almost as close. Today the Bulgarians expect even greater activity from neighbors.

But if you read the Bulgarian business press, the forecasts are mired in contradictions. Branimir Botev, Deputy Economy Minister responsible for tourism, said recently that the events in Ukraine and the Crimea caused an increase in the number of Ukrainian tourists visiting Bulgaria. These are the results of the pre-booking analysis. "We expect the growth of the Russian tourists: it won’t be high, but it still will be the growth", added Branimir. Dragomir Stoynov, Minister of Economy of Bulgaria, also expects an increase of tourists from Russia by 5-10%.

Galin Georgiev, Director at one of the country's largest tour operators, the "Solveks", recently said that he expected 10% decline. Peyko Yankov, Director of the largest hotel in Sunny Beach Holding “Sunny Beach Hotel Holdings”, reports about 100% booking of rooms in period from June 15th till September 15th. By the way the Sunny Beach resort containing 200 hotels and 15,000 restaurants and shops from St. Vlas to Nessebar celebrates this year its 55th anniversary and is preparing to survive an intensive tourist season.

Summer 2014: the Bulgarians welcome everyone | Photo 2 | ee24

Come at own

In fact, true is in the middle. Tour operators really note some decline in reservations, but train tickets as well as tickets for charter flights from St. Petersburg to Burgas and Varna are almost impossible to buy until late June, and prices for regular flights from the Russian capital were increased so dramatically that this type of vacation is not cheap any more. In addition, every year more and more people from Moscow and St. Petersburg are going to the Bulgarian Black Sea by cars.

"For many years Bulgaria is not in vain so popular among Russian overseas property buyers, and the Russians are at the top by quantity among buyers in Bulgaria"

For many years Bulgaria is popular among Russian overseas property buyers, and the Russians are at the top by quantity among buyers in Bulgaria – currently the quantity of apartments and houses owners from Russia reached already half a million. The last two years trading market is being active again, and that is the Russian demand, that according to realtors and developers, had stopped last year fall in prices in resort areas and helped the market to finally stabilize. Here apparently, hides the solution: they come actively and even more actively than they used to, but they come to own square meters not to the hotels. And they still spend money in the country as in fact they came for vacation to relax.

Summer 2014: the Bulgarians welcome everyone | Photo 3 | ee24

For those who rent square meters, the situation is as follows. Double room without breakfast in a cheap hotel at any coast from Kavarna to Tsarevo costs 30-40 levs (€15-20) per day. To rent an apartment with 1 bedroom in the resort area for a week or two cost approximately €35 per day. If the apartment is located in the 1 or 2 line and its design, furniture and appliances are in order, bargaining will not work. If the sea is located within half an hour walking distance (many of such complexes are in Sunny Beach, but the distance to the sea is usually compensated by the presence of the pool), then you may easily reduce the price to €15 per day.

Sveti Vlas, Sunny Beach, Varna, Byala and Tsarevo are considered to be expensive areas. In middle price category are Primorsko, Sozopol, Sarafovo and Obzor. Golden Sands and Sunny Beach are included into both categories as these resorts are very large and diverse. But it is necessary to keep in mind that at the Sunny Beach seaside apartment facilities are extended at the shore deeply away from the sea and you can always find cheaper options – both for rent and for sale.

Summer 2014: the Bulgarians welcome everyone | Photo 4 | ee24

It's only one step from rent to purchase

"It’s a common case: first you come to the hotel, then rent an apartment for the summer vacation and finally you purchase own real estate. And start thinking about how to live there year-round", says Polina Stoykova, CEO at Bulgaria Properties. By the way, this year, realtors mention about requests increase from customers who already have apartment in Bulgaria near the sea and now want to buy another house in non-resort area or village located 50 kilometers away from the sea. The amount in this case is from €20,000 to €40,000. Within this price range are made the majority of transactions at the sea cost.

"First it’s a hotel stay, then apartment rent for the summer, and finally a purchase"

According to Polina Stoykova, decline in property prices is over and now it's time for purchasing. In a couple of years, the expert predicts smooth growth. Mortgages will support the market.

Summer 2014: the Bulgarians welcome everyone | Photo 5 | ee24

Variation in prices, according to the National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria, in the last year had been a tenth of a percent, so realtor’s talk about stability is true. In Sofia, for the second year in a row the squares rise in price by 1.5-2% per year. The 2 percent decline being observed across the country in the last year may be explained by the fact that in provincial towns apartments and homes continue to become cheaper.

"Decline in property prices is over and now it's time for purchase"

Price for apartments in Sunny Beach today starts from €18,000; it’s a ready-made studio, located 3 km away from the sea. Apartment at the project stage may be found from €15,000 but “in process” is not in demand, and the choice is still wide. On the first or second line price starts from €35,000 for a one bedroom apartment. In Varna and Byala it’s from €50,000, in Sarafovo and Primorsko – from €45,000. But you may always find cheaper option by compromising over the view from the window, the distance from the water or square meters, as well as by turning regard on the secondary market.

Text: Julia Lozovskaya, especially for