Invest Sofia: Sofia Tourism and Air Transport Report 2018

Invest Sofia published their “Sofia Tourism and Air Transport Report 2018”. It provides to the potential investors and all stakeholders interested in the development of the tourism sector in the capital comprehensive and accessible information.

In 2017 Europe was visited by 671 million visitors – an 8% increase from the previous year, with the growth in the Southern and the Mediterranean regions reaching 13%, according to the United Nations World Travel Organisation. Some of the reasons behind the strong tourism growth in Europe in 2017 were the improved economic outlook across the Eurozone and the development of the tourist products and services offered in Europe.

Sofia visitors

Sofia is among the top 3 cities in Europe with the highest growth of international visitors. Sofia Airport launched 42 new routes between 2015-2018, including direct flights to Baku, Nice, Eilat, etc. A new line to Beijing is planned for 2020. A record growth of the total number of passengers was experienced in 2017 – 30.3%, which is triggered by Bulgaria’s economic growth as a whole, is also stated in the report. In 2018, Bulgaria hosted the Presidency of the Council of the EU, which was a reason for many tourists to visit the county. 

In 2017, Sofia was visited by 1,346,993 tourists and their number is experiencing stable growth since 2009. Most of the foreign visitors of Sofia in 2017 came from Italy (69 574), the UK (64 716), Germany (64 716), Greece (57 734) and Israel (51 472).

Source: Invest Sofia report 2018

Tourism satisfaction 

According to the ‘Assessment of the Sustainability of Tourism Development in Sofia Municipality 2016’ report, the overall satisfaction of Sofia’s visitors is quite high – 82% of the interviewed tourists were satisfied as a whole and for 68% it was not their first visit to Sofia.

From the spring of 2018, there are around 4,611 four- and five-star hotel rooms and more than 10 five-star hotels in Sofia. The number of 4- and 5-star hotel rooms in the city is expected to double by 2021.

Events and Heritage

Bulgaria ranks third in Europe in a number of cultural heritage landmarks. In Sofia, more than 1,400 cultural sites and artifacts are registered. Places like TechnoMagicLand, Sofia History Museum, St. Sofia Necropolis, Kvadrat 500, and Muzeiko are popular among visitors. Visitors can also explore more than 40 art galleries.

Sofia Film Fest, The International A to JazZ Festival, Spring Book Fair, Sofia Science Festival are just part of the events you can attend during the year.

In the National Palace of Culture, Sofia Tech Park, The Inter Expo and Congress Centre, Sofia Event Centre, Arena Armeec are hosted many different events, including concerts of famous international stars, conferences, business meetings, and fairs.

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The future of Sofia

The Municipal Strategy for Sofia’s Development as a Tourist Destination 2017-2030 includes a forecast about the development of the sector. The forecast focuses on 7 key tourism indicators: number of beds, number of tourists staying overnight, nights spent, the average length of stay, average revenue per night spend, and per tourist staying overnight. The expected growth varies from 7% to 77%.

Petya Petrova

Petya Petrova is a journalist, believer, and traveler.

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