‘India is a big market for us’
Bulgaria is wooing India as its potential market. Anelia Genova, Director, Marketing, Promotion & Information in Tourism Directorate talks to to know more about the same...
Q What growth do you see from India?
India is a new and enormous market for Bulgaria. We started to develop it in current year and we had the first two organised Indian groups in May and June. Our target is the MICE segment in India. We are also promoting Bulgaria in India as an excellent destination for individual and family trips.
Q How do you plan to increase Indian visitors?
We plan activities like participation in tourism exhibitions, workshops and tours for representatives of Indian tour operators and media in cooperation with the Head of Commercial & Economic Office of Bulgaria to India, Stefan Ionkov. We have organised two fam trips in September for tour operators and one media tour in the same month.
Q What itinerary do you recommend for an Indian tourist?
The Bulgarian seaside is very popular as one of the best summer destinations in Europe. We are happy to promote all our resorts as they have a perfect combination of nature, excellent hotels and entertainment for the whole family. Albena resort, for example, is a superb vacation place for family travellers and city of Plovdiv is an amazing vivid city with a variety of spa resort all around.
Q Is Indian food easily available?
Yes it is. Nowadays, we have many Indian restaurants all over Bulgaria and the packages offered by the Bulgarian DMCs ensure that Indian food will not be missing to the Indian tourist groups. Also, we have purely vegetarian dishes and this also answers to the Indian requirements.
Q Since there is no direct air connectivity, do you see that as a challenge?
Yes, this is a challenge, but also an opportunity to combine a visit of 2 countries with a single airline ticket. For instance – fly to Istanbul and visit Bulgaria and Turkey – the Bulgarian DMCs will take you from Istanbul airport and it will take you about 3 hours by car to get to Bulgaria. You can also combine visits of European countries such as Austria, Germany etc.
Q What are your expectations from agents?
Bulgaria offers special packages for the Indian market, tailored for the Indian requirements. Same include daytime activities, nightlife, visits of top golf and spa resorts and seaside resorts.
Q What are your promotional plans for the Indian market and how many Indians visit Bulgaria each year?
We will organise trips for representatives of tour operator companies and media, TV crews and workshops. In 2012, Bulgaria was visited by 4,722 Indians. In 2011, they were 3,849. Thus, there has been a growth of 22.7 % in 2012 as compared to 2011.
Q What are your visa policies?
On 25 January 2012, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria adopted a decision, according to which by the date of Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area, our country will unilaterally apply a visa-free system for holders of valid Schengen visas. They will have the right to enter and reside in the Republic of Bulgaria for a period of no more than three months in any six-month period from the date of the first entry, without needing to have a Bulgarian short-stay visa. The decision entered into force on 31.01.2012. In case the Indian traveller has a valid Schengen visa – he can use it to enter Bulgaria. If not, he is welcome to the Bulgarian Embassy in New Delhi to apply for a Bulgarian entry visa.
Q How are you promoting the MICE segment?
In Bulgaria, there are numerous expo and congress centres, conference halls, exhibition initiatives and festivals in all regions of the country. And this, combined with variety of options for activities such as shopping and active nightlife make Bulgaria a perfect MICE destination for Indian MICE groups. The average spend of a MICE visitor is approximately US$ 1,000 per week.
St Alexander Nevski Bulgaria
Director, Marketing, Promotion & Information in Tourism Directorate