Economic Policy Review ISSN 1313 - 0544

Bulgarian Tourism's Failed Advertising Campaign

Author: Velin Peev / 04.08.2009
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Half a year ago in an article from issue number 413 of this bulletin (bulgarian version), I criticized the spending of six million BGN for an advertising campaign of the Bulgarian resorts - a campaign directed to the native consumers of tourist services themselves. We affirmed that there was no sense in spending these funds due to a set of reasons:

  • First of all, Bulgarians are pretty much familiar with the beauties of their country ... and (these beauties) are of no need to be shown again and again to them. Moreover, this campaign is at their expense.
  • Second of all, because "our own resorts are not competitive as a result of congestion of people, poor infrastructure, negligent service - all of these at a price not worth giving."
  • Finally, because it is the tourist business that has to take on the expenses for the improvement of bad image.

In the last week the outgoing chairman of the National Tourist Agency confirmed that there was no increase of the number of Bulgarian tourists at the native resorts - a fact that makes this campaign a failure. Despite the millions invested in advertising, the product remains at the well-known low quality and Bulgarians in large numbers prefer to spend their vacation abroad.  It is highly probable that the result of similar series of ads for non-Bulgarian tourists would be the same as the whole market relies on many other beyond of influence of whosoever.

On the one hand, I hope that this case would serve as a lesson to the governing structures that do not make careful assessment of the expenses they make. It was clear that the Bulgarian tourist sector had much more serious problems than the lack of publicity and that a simple throw of money only to disguise the problem would not actually solve it.

On the other hand, this case is a good example that comes to show how the anti-crisis government spending of money just does not work. If this spending had positive effects it would lead to a bigger number of tourists at the resorts and would be also practiced in times with no crisis on the horizon. Instead of being spent, the money taken from Bulgarian taxpayers and companies could have been left in their hands in order to invest or spend. This, per se, stimulates the economy and is a good anti-crisis measure.

Last but not least, I hope that this case will convince the entrepreneurs in the tourist sector that they have to improve the quality of the services offered. It should be their and not taxpayers' task to put aside resources for the improvement of the sector's image. After all, they carry the responsibility for the worsening situation and would benefit most form its improvement.