How Tourism was Devastated: What are the prospects for Bansko in 2021?

Oct 12, 2020 No Comments by
Bansko from Todorka 6 person lift

In my last article I took a speculative view on how things may play out for Bansko tourism this winter. But what are the facts about the summer season? For these we have figures for foreign tourist arrivals in Bulgaria released monthly by the National Statistical Institute (NSI) have taken on a new immediacy because of the Covid-19 crisis. But a closer look at the figures shows quite how devastating the impact has been.

That is because the NSI, in its monthly reports, headlines the overall figure – counting in all reasons for foreign tourist arrivals, including holiday, business trips and transits through the country – and shows the percentage change.

A starker picture emerges, however, if one separates out the arrivals where the stated purpose is a holiday.

Looking at the NSI figures in this category, 2020 starts out well, in the first two months before the impact struck and Bulgaria declared a State of Emergency in mid-March – along with the closure of the major ski resorts, and, in the case of Bansko, the imposition of a quarantine.

In January 2019, foreign visitor arrivals with holiday as the stated purpose added up to 239 218. In January 2020, the figure rose to 259 133.

In February 2019, the figure was 201 918, increasing to 212 259 in February 2020.

Then comes March, and drop from 215 738 in that month in 2019 to 84 726 in March 2020.

The drop in April is a ski-jump. From 285 614 in April 2019 to a mere 586 in April 2020.

May 2019 saw 363 284 foreign tourist arrivals for holidays in Bulgaria. The May 2020 figure was 873. Amid the numerous flight cancellations, Bulgaria’s restrictions against arrivals from several countries, quarantine requirements and the intercity travel restrictions of the time, one is left wondering who these hundreds were who insisted on going ahead with their holidays.

June 2020 brought some easing of restrictions, but still the drop was from 769 662 in June 2019 to 41 240 in June this year.

July 2019 was the first month of last year to see foreign tourist arrivals for holidays in Bulgaria surpass the million mark. July 2020, amid charter flight cancellations and other countries’ travel restrictions in addition to Bulgaria’s own, saw the figure come in at 166 766.

The peak summer holiday month of August in 2019 saw more than 1.3 million foreign holidaymakers arrive in Bulgaria. This year, the figure was 242 468, again against the latest month of cancellation of charter flights and excursions by big players in the tour operator market, and continuing travel restrictions, even though Bulgaria had lengthened the list of countries whose nationals would be allowed to come in.

Today the NSI will release the figures for Bulgarian accommodation establishments’ revenue in August 2020. 

We already have seen the figures for the two preceding months. In June 2020, revenue from foreigners in accommodation establishments was down 95.7 per cent on an annual basis, and in July, down 77.1 per cent on an annual basis. Whatever the figure for August 2020 will show, it is a fair prediction that it will be grim, but will not be a surprise. A special thanks to for permission to use their patreon content in this post.

Winter predictions

The impact on Bulgaria’s tourist economy is especially significant if winter visitors decline. We will have to wait and see how this plays out because no-one know and much can change in a few months till the start of the season.

In the meantime, we at Bansko Blog / App are working hard on an all new iOS version of the Bansko App and an updated booking form.

Sign up to my newsletter to learn more about the coming winter season.

Thanks for reading, Lance


About the author

I enjoy tech, apps, entrepreneurship, podcasting and collaboration with others. I love travelling as well as skiing, hiking, MTB, paragliding, cooking and good food.
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