With EU accession expected in January 2007, Bulgaria is hardly a hidden treasure any longer, but it remains the holiday choice of those willing to try something new.
But in truth, Bulgaria has the potential to challenge and outmuscle many of Europe's more famous tourist hotspots, simply because of the variety of attractions on offer.
Crucially, Bulgaria is blessed with numerous popular beach resorts, including the unimaginatively named Sunny Beach and the ever-popular Golden Sands. With temperatures at these Black Sea regions averaging at 27 degrees C, it is little wonder that both have been attracting a huge amount of interest from overseas visitors in recent years.
According to a new report from Bulgaria's State Agency for Tourism (SAT), the country generated 1.557 billion from foreign visitors during the first nine months of 2006, representing an increase of 5.45 per cent from 2005.
And much of this money has been brought in at Bulgaria's popular ski resorts, including Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo. Bansko is the country's best ski resort and there are hopes that capital city Sofia will bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The Sofia News Agency reports that there are now 140,000 people employed in Bulgaria's tourism sector, which represents four per cent of all employment.
And as interest in Bulgaria as a holiday hotspot rises, authorities are making welcome moves to improve circumstances for visitors. The Sofia Echo reports that Mario al-Diebouri, head of the SAT, recently unveiled a new bill on tourism, which has been devised to regulate hostels, apartment complexes and information centres.
If passed, the law will allow municipalities to rate tourist facilities as either one or two-star, but SAT officials will be called in if a higher rating is sought.
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