On a visit to the Bulgarian seaside, one would notice the overwhelming number of Romanian visitors, enjoying the local seaside as though it was their country’s own. Golden Sands, one of the best known beach resorts in the country, thrives in a flourishing offer in hotels and restaurants, luring tourists in a manner that Romanians, their northern neighbors, seem to have quite a lot to learn from.
The natural Bulgarian landscape and climate conditions make Golden Sands a touristic destination that could be easily ranked as safe and quite family-oriented, although rumors regarding car parking safety still echo in the international press. Food and accommodation fees are not as high as those in Romania and the quality of services is superior in the sense of the availability that hotel, restaurant or general beach personnel greet their guests with. Managers, investors and entrepreneurs alike from the local businesses have the same logical goal that their Romanian counterparts do, that of making profit, but do not leave tourists with the impression of having been taken advantage of at the end of their Bulgarian experience.
Local hotels appear to be more adaptable and more open towards growth opportunities. For instance, Helios Spa & Resort has decided to further develop its offer by signing a franchise agreement with Hilton, for a Doubletree Hotel in Golden Sands, Varna, after a EUR 1 million investment on behalf of the international company. Regarding Hilton’s decision not to have a hotel on the Romanian seaside, Claudio Sturm, general manager of the Doubletree hotel in Varna, answered that the offer should come from the local market, and not the other way around.
On the other hand, George Velchev, chairman of Tetrareal AD, of which Helios Hotel is a subsidiary, had some interest in the Romanian seaside and wanted to buy Rex Hotel in Mamaia, five years ago, yet an agreement was never finalized, thus Rex missing the opportunity of one day being integrated in the Hilton brand. Privatization in Mamaia took place too quickly, Velchev declared, and all the important international hotel brands preferred the capital city of Romania, which Velchev stated that he would do too. What Romania seems to lack in right now is a good strategy and a better cohesion in its touristic approach, Velchev continued.
However, Krassimir Katev, former Deputy Minister of Finance in Bulgaria, one of the investors at the Bulgarian Helios Hotel, sees touristic potential for Romania, yet would rather prefer the Romanian industry for future investment, which he considers extremely interesting, especially from the IT sector standpoint.
In the eyes of the first-time visitor of the Bulgarian seaside, the local market’s openness and availability for development is visible with the naked eye. There is certain room for improvement and some things seem to be created for the mere sake of appearances, yet the increasing number in international tourists, not just from the Romanian neighbor, but Russia, Germany, Israel, Scandinavia, Great Britain, among many others, says a lot compared to the constantly decreasing percentage of foreign visitors on the northern side of the Black Sea coast.