Sofia Marks Significant Growth in Tourism

Tuesday, 02 October 2018

The team of Sofia Investment Agency published the new Sofia Tourism and Air Transport Market Report 2018 prepared by the Investment Analysis Department of the Agency. Since 2009 there has been a steady growth in tourism in Sofia. In 2017, for the second consecutive year, Sofia registered an increase of around 13% in the number of tourists and an increase of around 15% in their overnight stays. Although at a slower pace, the growth is expected to continue over the next few years. The development of the sector in Sofia is in line with the growth of tourism in Europe as a whole. In 2017 Europe was visited by 671 million tourists – an increase of 8% compared to 2016. According to the World Tourism Organization(UNWTO), the highest growth of tourists was recorded in South Europe (including the Mediterranean region) where there was an increase of 13% in the number of tourists compared to 2016. Some of the factors that have contributed to the development of tourism in Sofia are the increase in the number of direct flights to Sofia in the period 2015 -2018, the macroeconomic and political stability of Bulgaria, Sofia being considered a safe destination, the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the effective entry of low-cost airlines (in 2017 there was a record increase in the number of passengers at Sofia Airport – 30.3% compared to 2016). For the last four years, the passengers at Sofia Airport have increased by 86% - the highest passenger traffic growth among the 100 busiest airports in Europe, with a total of 42 new destinations for the period 2015-2018. It is expected that there will be direct flights between Beijing and Sofia by 2020. Some of the other factors that have contributed to the increase in tourism demand in Sofia are the growth of the European economy over the past few years and the optimistic forecasts for its future development; the good ratio between the price and quality of the offered tourism products and services in Sofia, the increased demand and interest in European tourism services not only by intra-European markets but also by large foreign markets such as the United States, China and Russia; the growth of the quantity and the richer range of tourism products and services in the region, the key location and good connectivity of Sofia, which is located one to three hours by plane from all major European capitals. More and more investors are also interested in Sofia – there are new hotels of international chains such as MARRIOTT and HYATT.