Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Cigari's to go up up and away !

The prices of cigarettes in Bulgaria will increase drastically in 2010 over the planned raise in excise duty.

The Deputy Finance Minister, Vladislav Goranov, said for Darik Radio that in the Budget 2010 project is foreseen a excise of EUR 76 per 1 000 cigarettes.

This is a 46% increase compared to the present levels, which will affect the end prices, too.

A pack of the most common Bulgarian cigarettes, Victory, will cost at least BGN 1,5, if the excise rise affects the price formation. In this way, a pack of Victory will cost nearly BGN 5.

The business expects an increase in the excise between EUR 52 and EUR 64 for 1 000 cigarettes, because the previous government promised them so.

“The minimal excise in the European Union is EUR 64 for 1 000 pieces. The Bulgarian government would offer higher, because currently the country has the highest heart deceases death rate in the EU”, Goranov said.

Another argument for the excise increase is the expected bigger budget incomes. However, the exact rise is still being calculated.

Goranov explained that in other EU countries the excise on cigarettes was higher. He gave as an example Germany, where it is EUR 120-130 for 1 000 cigarettes.

Uncle's Comment: The minimum wage in Bulgaria is around 220 leva a month, most people take home maybe 500 leva plus, so 5 leva a packet  is something like 2.5% of the minimum wage and 1% of the average.However if someone smokes 20 cigarettes a day over a 30 day month that is 150 leva.Hopefully this will be a major incentive to cut down on or stop smoking.I would anticipate a big increase in the cigarette smuggling trade from Turkey.

Bring me my smelling salts !

Bulgaria has the worst European quality of healthcare services, according to the 2009 Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI).

The research, sponsored by the European Commission, puts Bulgaria in last place having in mind the negative results of the country in different health related fields.

Bulgaria has negative evaluations in all criteria, connected with medicines accessibility – percentage of price return for medicines given with a prescription, innovative onco medicines usage, access to new products. In this criteria Bulgaria is joined at the bottom by Albania and Lithuania.

Some of the main criticism is based on the lack of patient protection legislature. In Bulgaria, there is no way of getting compensation without getting the case to the court.

The Netherlands win the 2009 (EHCI), for the second year in a row.

There are general improvement trends among most of the measured healthcare systems, with examples of reform making impact not only in Netherlands but in Ireland or the Czech Republic as well.

There is continuous decline in the Spanish, Portuguese and Greek healthcare systems which do not keep up with the improvement rate one can find in countries like the Netherlands, Denmark or Ireland.

Large parts of Eastern and Central Europe seem to be affected by the financial crisis, the report says.

The EHCI 2009 groups 38 indicators of quality into six categories: Patient rights and information, e-Health, Waiting time for treatment, Outcomes, Range and reach of services provided and Pharmaceuticals.

The EHCI has become a measurement standard for European healthcare. It ranks 33 national European health care systems across 38 indicators.

Uncle's View: In defence of the Bulgarian healthcare system; friends who have used it were relatively impressed (apart from one friend who was asked for a 12 year old bottle of malt whisky for the gynacologist to assist his wife in childbirth).

The hospitals are generally clean and the staff quite good, though the surgical scars I have seen on some people would not happen in the UK.

However it all boils down to money at the end of the day and Bulgaria just doesnt have it.

Secret Police News...I kid you not !

The Bulgarian communist-era secret police, the so called "State Security" (DS) was closely related to, but was not a part of the notorious Soviet KGB.

The Chair of the Bulgarian Files Commission (investigating Bulgaria's communist-era police files), Evtim Kostadinov, said this Monday at the official presentation a book that attempts to track down the relations between both police.

The nearly 500-page documentary collection "KGB and DS - links and dependences" covers archives from the two police from the period 1950 - 1991, including funds of the Interior Ministry and the National Investigative Service, a successor to the foreign policy investigating unit at the Bulgarian state security police.

This is the first event of this kind, initiated by the so-called files commission. Under local legislation, adopted in 2006, the body is entitled to publish archive documents of the repressive regime from the ruling of the Bulgarian Communist Party.

The commission, which is in charge of the declassification of the files prepared by the country's intelligence services before the fall of the regime, plans to distribute the collection on DVD and online.

The former State Security (DS) and its files are a thorny issue in Bulgaria, especially when it comes to the past of high-ranking officials.

Bulgaria's communist-era security service is believed to have remained potent after the fall of communism with the ex-operatives closely linked to the political and business establishment.

Uncle's View: In practice they were the same thing.A Secret Police force exists to prop up a dictatorship by keeping its internal and external enemies in check and stiffling dissent. All Eastern Bloc countries had a form of KGB which worked closely with its Soviet counterpart, hence the Bulgarian DS's alleged complicity in the attempted assassination of the Pope in 1981 on behalf of the KGB.

Tourism on a downer !

Foreign trips dip 10.1% y/y in Aug 

Foreign travels to Bulgaria continued the downtrend at the height of the summer season, contracting by 10.1% year-on-year to 1.4 million in August, showed official statistics. Swedes and Danes who used to flock to Bulgarian seaside resorts in previous years chopped trips by 72.5% and 65%, respectively, as the number of Slovenian tourists contracted by 60%. Germans regained interest in Bulgaria making 241,000 visits including 175,000 holiday travels but the other key markets – the UK and Russia – slid by respective 31.9% and 2.8%. Romanians who are the most numerous group at Bulgaria's northern coast trimmed trips by 16.9%. The tourist sector contracted by 12.7% in June and pared the loss to 5.8% in July with revenues plunging deeper than tourist numbers. At the same time, fewer Bulgarians travelled abroad in August, down 7.7% on the year. Trips to Greece and Macedonia picked up 7.5% and 24.6% but visits to Turkey shed 4.1% as most Bulgarians abandoned trips to western Europe where they usually go on business.

Monday, 28 September 2009

News from Bulgaria Air

Breaking News Hot from the Airlines newsletter.Sounds good value.


London (Heathrow) - Sofia - London (Heathrow)

60.20 GBP One Way
100 GBP Return

Sale starts today 28SEP and ends 04OCT 2009
Travel Period: Departure from 01OCT to 04DEC 2009.
Ticket must be issued within 72h after reservations are made.
Airport taxes included.
Prices apply from the UK to Bulgaria or from Bulgaria to the UK.
The ticket issuing charge may also be applied, according to the issuer's policy.
Available seats are limited. Prices are correct as on 28th September 2009.

Energy issues

The more cultured of you will realise that 'Nabuco' is an Opera by Verdi that deals with the Israelites in Egypt.However it is also the project name for an ambitious gas pipeline project that will transfer energy from Asia to Europe.It will pass through the Balkans, and here the plot thickens.

Energy, particularly for heating, is an extremely politically sensitive issue in Eastern Europe.Most of the gas currently comes in one pipeline from Russia.This gives Putin,Medvedev etc enormous leverage over the Balkans.Two winters ago the Russians got into a dispute with the Ukraine and cut the gas supply to them in the middle of winter, leaving thousands of people literally freezing.A corollary of this is that the gas supply was also reduced for Bulgaria and other states.It was very close here to a major shortage of heating.

The previous Socialist government was pretty pally with Moscow (the Premier was born in the former Soviet Union and his father was a politburo member of the Bulgarian Communist Party)They dragged their feet over Nabuco, despite the fact that the pipelines shortest length is in Bulgaria.Now it appears that the new government is forging ahead.This is incredibly important for stable and relatively inexpensive gas, at a time when prices are rising due to all of Europe's dependency on Russian gas (about 30% of the total).

Europe cannot be overly dependent on one supplier of gas.The coming wars of the future will, I am sure, be over energy as it becomes more scarce and demand continues to increase.

It is also interesting to note that the Russians want to take a stake in the new Belene nuclear plant, that is about to go to tender.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

When ID Cards are not ID Cards

Confusion Reigns over Bulgaria Residence for EU Citizens

EU citizens are up in arms over confusion regarding their Bulgarian identity documents that have caused problems with residency and every day life.

After a Novinite.com investigation into the problems encountered with the Bulgarian certificate for long-term residence it has become clear that Bulgarian authorities are utterly confused over when and how EU citizens can use their identity cards and when they are allowed to apply for permanent residence.

EU citizens who contacted Novinite.com described the situation as "like apartheid" and urged the new center-right GERB government to take urgent action. They also described how they had been laughed at by Bulgarian banks, local government officials and police when they produced their "child-like" long-term residence certificates.

Before Bulgaria joined the EU, foreign citizens who had applied for a Bulgarian visa were rewarded with a card that had the same format as the lichna karta - including an LNCh identity number and a photo. However since 2007 when Brussels welcomed Bulgaria with open arms into the EU family, EU citizens have been met with confusion, annoyance and sometimes anger by the Bulgarian authorities after being issued with new long-term residence cards that do not include either an identity number or photo.

The Interior Ministry concluded that it is aware of the issue and stated that a bill is currently being discussed in the parliament to solve the problems.

Uncle's View: Everyone knows the so called ID cards are a joke, there is no photo or number so they are useless.A copy of the passport or at least a driving licence should be carried by an EU citizen at all times.The irony is that a non-EU citizen does have photo ID, but they have to pay through the nose for it, as I did before 2007 (525 leva a year)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Shops galore !.

Billa, the German supermarket chain, have announced that they will soon have 26 stores in Bulgaria, and the French chain Carrefour are also expanding.This is good news for consumer choice in Bulgaria as previously it was just Piccadilly, CBA and Metro as the mainstays.Kaufland is also expanding in Bulgaria which will hopefully drive down retail food prices as it's not cheap in Bulgaria.With the exception of booze, everything else would be undercut by a UK supermarket.

There is actually a Marks and Spencers in Burgas, but I hear the prices are horrendous !.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Sporting News !

Bulgaria Top Football Clubs Rocked by Tax Evasion Scandals


Eight of the top football clubs in Bulgaria owe the State over BGN 8 M in taxes.

Among them the biggest debtor is the CSKA football club with over BGN 2 M owed to the National Revenue Agency (NRA), the TV channel bTV reported Thursday.

The other seven football teams involved in large-scale tax evasion are "Litex," "Locomotive Sofia," "Locomotive Plovdiv," "Beroe," "Belasitsa," "Botev," and "Marek."

The State institutions are yet to officially confirm the information and name the clubs.

The NRA agents have found out that football clubs committed fraud by listing fake loses of over BGN 3 M and that reporting the football players' salaries of BGN 220 (the country's minimum monthly wage) is common practice.

Checkups of football players for discrepancies between their reported income and the property they own are pending.

The football club "Levski" reportedly paid all its taxes as announced by their President, Todor Batko

More airline news, good this time !

Wizz Air to launch four new routes from Sofia 

Hungarian no-frills airline Wizz Air will fly to four new destinations from Sofia airport, said executive vice-president John Stephenson. 

As of May 22, 2010, the carrier will carry out three flights a week to Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt and Bologna, with one-way fares starting from BGN 33.99 with taxes, excluding luggage, insurance and bank transfer surcharges. 

The first three destinations are services by flag carrier Bulgaria Air. Wizz Air will compete also with EasyJet, which flies to Madrid, Air France to Paris and Lufthansa to Frankfurt. No airline on the market operates the Bologna route at the moment, according to the timetable of Sofia Airport. 

From May, Wizz Air will also add one more flight to its Eindhoven and Valencia destinations, carrying passengers three and four times a week, respectively. It is also pondering launching a flight to Bratislava, seeking to lure Vienna travelers following the collapse earlier this month of SkyEurope, which slipped into insolvency and filed for bankruptcy protection. Stephenson said the carrier could not afford to fly directly to Vienna due to the high fees but added the destination will be services by their peer Flyniki. 

To meet surging demand, Wizz Air plans to add a new Airbus A320 to its operating base in Sofia. The company operates its Sofia routes by 26 airliners, which should grow to 132 by 2017. It has captured around 11% of the Bulgarian market, ranking second after Bulgaria Air and leaving behind Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and EasyJet. 

The Hungarian airline has carried around 650,000 passengers across all Sofia destinations, Stephenson said. Traffic is expected to swell to 750,000 in 2010.

Uncle's comment: Looking like Wizzair are really investing in Bulgaria, and taking up the slack caused by the demise of SkyEurope. A little bit more competition on the winter coastal routes would be nice though !.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Field of Broken Dreams

It's Sunday morning, I don't have any hot news stories to post,so I thought I'd just give you some musings about people, mainly British in Bulgaria.

People from the UK have been coming here in large numbers since the Communist period, when Bulgaria was one of the few Eastern bloc countries with a large Western tourist trade.I still meet people who have been coming here since the 1970's and can regale you with many a fine story about that time.

From roughly 2003, the nature of the foreigners here changed.They were not coming here simply as tourists, but to buy property.Some of these actually came to live here.

British people living abroad in large numbers first happened in the 1980's, virtually entirely in Spain.It was cheap and the sun actually shone quite alot.There are well in excess of a million British people in Spain.

Bulgaria was a relative 'Johnny come lately'. It offered what Spain could no longer; cheap property and a very high standard of living for little money.

Now things have changed yet again, Bulgaria is nowhere near as cheap as it used to be, the pound has slumped and the world is in recession causing the property market to collapse.

Now the underlying tensions in the ex-pat lifestyle rise to the surface.People are starting to run out of money and are having to return to the UK, to restart their lives yet again.Many marriages are breaking up under the strain (Although many cannot survive the pressures of the lifestyle out here).

Many people are resorting to drinking heavily, principally because it's cheap and freely available as there are no licensing laws here.

Basically it's Spain all over again.The Bulgarian press delights in stories about the antics of the 'English'.

Meanwhile those of us who work out here continue to struggle with an abysmal economic situation.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

New travel portal

Came across www.fly.com seems a pretty useful new search portal for accessing flights.Wizzair still remains the only direct winter flight to Varna though, and don't forget the Easyjet option to Sofia and change for the internal flight on Wizzair.

A little better


Bulgaria's property market has registered an August increase of 2% to 3%, the Chair of the National Real Estate Association, Lachezar Iskrov reported.

Iskrov spoke Thursday in a special interview for Darik radio.

According to the Chair, property prices have ceased to go down, but will maintain their current level for quite a while and the real estate values would reach their pre-crisis numbers in five to six years from now.

Currently the average price for residential properties in the capital Sofia is between EUR 750 and 950 per square meter. In the Black Sea cities of Varna and Burgas the values are 5% to 10% lower while the prices are the lowest in Bulgaria's second largest city, Plovdiv - between EUR 550 and 750 per square meter.

Iskrov also pointed out that the minimal reduction of mortgage interest rates was not going to contribute to a further market revival since the banks still grant loans under conditions that are too restrictive.

The National Real Estate Association Chair said that he expects a price reduction for lands used for construction since they have been overpriced in last years, but the demand has been almost non-existent lately.

Good news for new business


The required capital to register a limited liability company was lowered to the symbolic BGN 2 or EUR 1 by the Bulgarian Parliament.

The Members of the Parliament approved Thursday on first read the amendments in the Trade Act, lowering the required registration amount from BGN 5 000 to BGN 2.

The proposal had received the preliminary approval of the new cabinet in August and was promised by the now ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party before the July general elections.

On his part, Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, included the measure in the the anti-crisis packet as a way to encourage local business.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Currency news

The finance minister announced yesterday that entry into the Eurozone should be achievable with the new governments 5 year term ie by 2014.This is further confirmation that the Euro will be reality fairly soon.Membership of the Eurozone will further bind Bulgaria into the European family and provide economic security.

Monday, 14 September 2009

M-Tel Bulgarian Open

Uncle enjoyed a very convivial evening at the Lighthouse Golf course last night at the presentation ceremony for the winners of the tournament.The buffet was superb, as was the drink, and the band was absolutely superb. A thoroughly good advertisement for the Golf industry in Bulgaria and everyone is to be applauded for their efforts !.

More on economics

Joblessness to climb by summer ’10, economy to bounce in ‘11 

Ravaged by its first recession in 12 years, Bulgaria could see a double-digit unemployment rate, peaking at around 10% in the spring of 2010, business groups forecast. 

The economy shrank by 4.9% in the second quarter in comparison with 6.8% year-on-year growth in third-quarter 2008 when it still kept clear of the downturn. The jobless rate sprang by almost 40% over the past year to almost 7.8% at the end of August. 

“I think we have hit the bottom. But it’s too low and so unemployment will rise further as redundancies lag the drop in orders by around six months,” said Vasil Velev, chairman of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA). In this period companies are using all options to cut costs by soft measures such as putting staff on shorter working hours, he explained. 

Kamen Kolev, deputy chairman of the Bulgarian Industrial Chamber (BIC), companies could not stick to this approach for more than six months as slumping order intakes will force them to slim down their workforce. 

Bulgaria’s main trade partners such as France and Germany have shown signs they are shaking off recession but Bulgaria will see the green shoots of recovery in the spring of 2010. This will perk up the job market in a few months and so unemployment will stay high through the summer and even the autumn of 2010, Kolev reckons. 

The state could salvage some jobs if it covers a portion of the wages paid by companies that have been hit by recession, according to Evgenii Ivanov, executive director of the Confederation of Employers and Industrials in Bulgaria (CEIBG). The government put in place a similar programme but keen interest sapped quickly the allocated amounts. The social ministry has pledged to tap into Human Resources Development programme of the European Union (EU) to extend the scheme. 

Ivanov believes that by lending businesses a hand against the downturn, the state could stave off double-digit unemployment in 2010.

Friday, 11 September 2009

September 11th

I suppose I cannot let this day pass without some comment on the 8th anniversary of this momentous event. 

On that morning over 2,000 people simply went to work and never came back again.The pictures of that day are still heart breaking to watch. That moment in history is every bit as tragic as the Titanic, but the Titanic was mainly an accident. The W.T.O. incident was entirely man made and in the 24/7 media age was covered round the world.

It triggered two wars that we are still fighting today and the deaths of thousands more, including now well over 200 British soldiers in Afghanistan alone.

What did Kipling say 'East is East and West is West and na'er the twain shall meet' .

We have to ask ourselves how can the West accomodate Islam and vice versa.How the First World deals with the Third ?. And what is the benefit of western armies staying in these theatres of war for much longer.

We need an exit plan and we need one urgently. 

Bulgaria and the EU

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boiko Borisov has met with EU Commission President Manuel Barroso.

The meeting seems to have been very productive with Barroso emphasising that the next 6 months are CRUCIAL to Bulgaria's position in the EU.He went on to praise the anti-corruption measures taken by the new government and to release some of the SAPARD money that has been blocked by Brussels over concerns over corruption and lack of financial transparency. O.L.A.F. the EU anti-fraud office has also praised the new government for its work.

However Bulgaria's Chief Prosecutor, Velchev has said that very little has been done so far to combat particularly state fraud, and the government faces an enormous black hole in the Budget left by the last government, which was spending frantically in its last few days in office.The Health budget is in a particular mess.

The government will have to raise more money in taxes, which considering that evasion is the norm here will be difficult, public expenditure will also be cut.

Vroom Vroom !


Bulgaria is going to build a track for Formula 1 and Moto GP races near the capital Sofia.

This has been announced by Member of Parliament from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (and former Interior Minister (2005-2008), Rumen Petkov, who is also the chair of the Organizational Committee for the Bulgarian Grand Prix in motorcycling.

"We have signed a contract for the Moto GP race, and we also have reached an agreement on a Formula 1 race coming to Bulgaria. We hope that everything will go well, and that we will be able to combine the tracks for the two races in one," Petkov is quoted as saying by the Trud Daily.

In his words, the Formula 1 and Moto GP track will be constructed on the place of the former military air base at Dobroslavtsi, Novi Iskar Municipality, about 12 km north of Sofia.

Bulgaria's preliminary contract with Moto GP says that the tract must be completed by the end of January 2011; the negotiations with Formula 1 have been for hosting a race in the fall of 2011 or 2012.

Petkov believes that Sofia's proximity to several other large Balkan cities - Athens, Belgrade, Bucharest, Thessaloniki - would be sufficient to attract the necessary audience for the Formula 1 and Moto GP races.

Uncles Comment: Fat chance of getting off the ground !

'Yes sir I can boogie !'


Bulgaria's Supreme Judicial Council has started a disciplinary procedure against the Deputy Chair of the Sofia District Court, Nikolay Madzharov.

Judge Madzharov is facing possible disciplinary dismissal because he had organized a "chalga" (i.e. pop folk - popular Bulgarian/Balkan music with Oriental motives) disco every Thursday inside the building of the court.

The chalga club was called "Male, male" (an interjection, something like a Bulgarian equivalent of "Wo-hoo") after a song by Roma singer Sofi Marinova and rapper Ustata ("The Mouth").

It was hosted by the common room of the Sofia District Court, and even featured a pair of bikini hanging on its door.

When asked by the media recently about the chalga club he organized, Madzharov said, "If we had called it Piano Bar "Legal Mind", it would not have made the headlines."

The Deputy Chair of the Court is also investigated for a number of violations that he allegedly committed when he was temporarily the head of the Sofia District Court for about a year and a half.

One of the violations includes the fact that all computer monitors somehow disappeared from the building one Saturday, and there is no information where they had been taken.

The recently appointed Chair of the Sofia District Court, Krasimir Vlahov, has already fired the head accountant and the facilities manager of the courthouse, and has punished eight other employees over that and similar other violations.

It is still unclear whether the Supreme Judicial Council is going to fire Madzharov over his chalga disco management skills.

9 of the 22 members of the Council have begged to be struck off the list of the commission that will consider Madzharov's case. They have done so on the grounds that they know Madzharov personally and do not want to participate in the work of the commission.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Tragedy on Lake Ohrid

I forgot to post that there was a shipping tragedy at the weekend, in which at least 15 Bulgarians drowned.They were on a tourist boat which ran in to trouble on Lake Ohrid in Macedonia.The boat sank just 200 metres from the shore.Awful !.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

UK economic news

Even the Right wing Daily Telegraph newspaper is reporting that Britain is now out of recession.The figures on output and employment are very encouraging.I think by next year things will look alot more positive.

From a Bulgarian perspective the housing market needs to get the over-supply issue sorted, which means a resounding no to any more speculative building.

Michael Shields Update

It has just been announced that Michael Shields has been pardoned.He will be released immediately.The Home Secretary said in July that he was minded not to pardon him but it appears that new evidence was presented to him by the Shields family.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Whoops !

An anti-aircraft missile exploded shortly after its launch during military drills of the Bulgarian Army near the northeast town of Shabla.

The rocket exploded 50 meters up in the air a second after the launch in front of the eyes of Defense Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, and President Georgi Parvanov, who is the Bulgarian Commander-in-Chief.

No one was killed or injured by the explosion but the drills had to be terminated for some time. The explosion originated in the engine of the anti-aircraft missile, whereas its head fell in the sea, and will be recovered by divers.

"Unfortunately, this incident shows that we are working with outdated equipment. The conclusions is that we need to restore the priorities of our armed forces," Defense Minister Mladenov commented after the explosion.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Bulgarian Open Golf Tournament

Well the Bulgarian Open starts next week, the most prestigious event ever held on the Black Sea Golf courses.It will be shared between the Blacksearama and Lighthouse clubs. And yes it does mean that we will have a week of heavy rain, thunder and showers.They are going to be out of luck on that front.I am advised however that anyone who wants to come and watch and/or soak up the atmosphere (no pun intended) will be welcome.

Uncle's note: The golf courses are located off the E87 international highway.From Varna go to the Albena roundabout and exit to the signpost 'Dobrich', stay on that road.At Balchik cross the roundabout at the petrol station and its about 5/10 minutes.The courses are next door to one another.

A timely quote

This is doing the rounds on the blogosphere and I thoroughly agree with it !.

"No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day." Barack Obama

Thursday, 3 September 2009


I had a very convivial afternoon in Balchik yesterday afternoon sat by the harbour with some friends.Balchik is a beautiful town with a nice promenade and brilliant restaurants.Unlike the resorts it's also very cheap and has enormous potential.In ten years time I can see it being like Puerto Banus in Spain.Already there are some nice yachts appearing and there is an annual regatta in conjunction with Romania.It also features the summer house of the late Queen Marie of Romania and stunning botanical gardens.If you have never been there it is well worth a visit.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

As predicted...

Bulgaria’s tourism markets shrivels up to 30% summer’09 

Last-minute bookings where hoteliers lop 20-25% off the standard price were the engine behind Bulgaria’s once-booming seaside tourism industry in the traditionally bumper months of July and August, hoteliers and tour operators said. 

As the economic downturn made vacationers snap up their purses, the share of last-minute bookings widened from a humble 10-15% of all in previous periods to 30-40% this season, when separate hotels even recorded 50%. 

Coupled with the shorter tourist season, this battered revenues in a sector that generates around 14% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). 

“Tourist numbers dropped by around 10-12% this year but revenues slumped by more than 30%,” said Elena Ivanova, chairwoman of the Sunny Beach owners’ union. 

Her estimates were echoed by Georgi Shterev, who chairs the owners’ union in Bulgaria’s other upmarket resort of Golden Sands, on the northern Black Sea coast, who said that tourist numbers have dwindled by 10-15% as revenues have come in 20-25% shorter. 

Despite the sharp decline, Bulgaria has scored higher than all of its main competitors expect for neighbouring Turkey, which hopes to eke out a 5% rise. 

As the highest season draws to an end, hoteliers and tour operators are putting the finishing touches on summer 2010 deals, when most companies will slash the number of hotels they work with but do their best to keep tourist numbers unchanged. In addition, they will seek ways to encourage early bookings through juicier offers and special extras to packages.

Uncle's comment: Bulgaria must learn to compete in terms of both price and quality.It is no longer a budget tourist destination because the resorts have priced themselves out of the market.They ought to learn from Western supermarkets 'Stack it high sell it cheap !'

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

A few musings on UK politics

I dont usually spend too much time commentating on UK politics, as I don't live there anymore.However I have been reading an article in the blog Libdemvision,which talks about Nick Clegg continuing his 'March to classical Liberalism'.In other words a move towards economic rather than Social Liberalism or Social Democracy.

Coupled with this I am reading that the latest 'model' Tory Council the London Borough of Barnet is to be 'run on a budget airline model'.

I over-use the phrase 'you couldn't invent it' quite alot but I am absolutely taken aback.At a time when unregulated capitalism has brought us to the edge of catastrophy we are being told that more laissez-faire is good for us and that local government should be run like a cut price airline.

The Labour Government has responded boldly to the economic crisis, but the rest of it's performance, with some noble exceptions, has been more reminiscent of a party afraid of its own shadow, afraid to upset the middle classes and the Murdoch press.It's been ok to attack soft targets such as fox hunting and reform of the Lords, but the last 12 years of New Labour have seen the gap between rich and poor actually increase, coupled with a depressingly predictable authoritarianism leading us, among other things, to ID cards.

So there we have it, two rightwing parties, in the Tories and the Liberals, plus a Labour Party that has completely lost the plot and veered to the right, and now we have the extremist BNP.

What the country actually needs is a Social Market economy that recognises the state as a major economic player and that redistributive taxation is a central plank of social policy.

Otherwise, in Monty Pythons words, its 'Spam,Spam,Spam and Spam'

Good News for 'Uncle'

Great news on my website front over 143,000 hits in August by far the best ever.I was geting only 29,000 hits in February so this is a startling improvement.I am well aware that alot of people are just window shopping at the minute but it adds to my confidence that the interest is still there in Bulgaria, it's just that alot of people are putting their decisions off due to the economic uncertainty.

Unbelievable !


Graphic porn images shocked the commuters at the Serdica Metro Station in the Bulgarian capital on Monday.

This happened as porn websites were left opened on the 17-inch of the free Internet terminals that have recently been installed at the subway station.

Some of the commuters alerted the security personnel about the indecent images shown on the free Internet terminals.

The terminals were installed three days ago by the municipality-owned firm Metropolitan that runs the Sofia Metro.

"These terminals are supposed to display the Sofia Metro website, and also, everyone should be able to use Internet through them. I checked the terminals early in the morning, and they displayed our homepage," said Stoyan Bratoev, Metropolitan Director, as cited by the Dnevnik Daily.

The municipal company has promised to block the access to porn websites from the public free terminals.