Cruise tourism in Bulgaria

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Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract =1698105 1 Cruise tourism in Bulgaria Petra Ilcheva and Vladimi r Zhechev About the authors Vladimir Zhechev received his Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from HAN University, Arnhem Business School, the Netherlands. He is currently an MBA student at University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, UK and simultaneously occupies a marketing assistant position in a private organization. Petra Ilcheva is a graduate of International University College, Bulgaria holding a Bachelor Degree in Hospitality Management. Her specialty is in alternative tourism due to her international background in the field.  Abstract  The pr edominant rationale of this study is to outline the chief prerequisites for the development of cruise tourism in Bulgaria. The paper not only reveals the significance of the chosen type o  f alternative tourism in Bulgaria, but it also examines the foremost development and demand factors that have contributed to its current state in the country. Finally, the study sheds a light on the future growth of cruise tourism and the concomitant alterations in the tourism sector as a result of the former.  Key words: cruise, Bulgaria, alternative tourism 

Transcript of Cruise tourism in Bulgaria

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Cruise tourism in Bulgaria

Petra Ilcheva and Vladimir Zhechev

About the authors

Vladimir Zhechev received his Bachelor Degree in Business Administration fromHAN University, Arnhem Business School, the Netherlands. He is currently anMBA student at University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, UK and simultaneouslyoccupies a marketing assistant position in a private organization.

Petra Ilcheva is a graduate of International University College, Bulgaria holding aBachelor Degree in Hospitality Management. Her specialty is in alternativetourism due to her international background in the field.

Abstract

The predominant rationale of this study is to outline the chief prerequisites for thedevelopment of cruise tourism in Bulgaria. The paper not only reveals the significance of

the chosen type o f alterna tive tourism in Bulgaria, but it also examines the foremost

development and demand factors that have contributed to its current state in the country.

Finally, the study sheds a light on the future growth of cruise tourism and the concomitant

alterations in the tourism sector as a result of the former.

Key words: cruise, Bulgaria, alternative tourism

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1. Introduction

Presently, cruise tourism is emerging rapidly and is claimed to be one of the foremost areas of

tourism growth since the beginning of the new millennium. Furthermore, the process of revival of cruising has taken place in the last four decades and at present it accounts for a

narrow but growing niche of the global tourism industry. Alternatively, cruise tourism is

regarded as the fastest growing segment of the leisure tourism industry with travel to the

Caribbean region accounting for approximately 50 percent of the global market for such

products (Wood, 2000). As a matter of fact, the Caribbean, Europe, and Alaska have

established themselves as key cruising spots, which rapid advancement is devoted to the large

number of cruise ships, cruise lines, and the creation of more cruise corporations.

In an actual fact, building and sustaining a positive image holds a significant role when

promoting ports of call and cities to potential developers, investors and visitors. At present,

cruise companies are increasingly evolving in product terms and positioning of their brand

names. In that way they enable customers to identify their products, regardless of the intense

competition (Dowling, 2006). Additionally, proper positioning and positive brand image make

customers less price sensitive and facilitate their decision making due to the reliance onaffirmative past experiences with the respective companies.

In the context of Eastern Europe, Bulgaria, with its strategic geographical location and rich

natural resources, boasts very good conditions for development of tourism in general. One of

the most significant prerequisites for this development is the Black Sea coast. It stretches from

Northeast to Southwest Bulgaria and attracts a multitude of local and international tourists

every year. Given these resources, Bulgaria is deemed to have a real potential and capacity toexpand its cruise tourism, particularly – river and sea cruising.

Effectively, a Black Sea cruise offers a unique opportunity to explore a region which offers

ancient treasures, astonishing places and spectacular architectural works. A cruise along the

Black sea also involves visits of many beaches, which enjoy unadulterated sunshine during the

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whole summer season. On the other hand, a Danube River cruise is the best way to become

familiar with natural landscapes and cultural heritages which have witnessed many nations ’

historical influence. On a Danube River cruise, Europe's vineyard-lined valleys and beautifully

preserved medieval towns in countries such as Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and

Romania can be discovered. Since the number of cruise vessels and industry itself keep

growing larger, greater investments are also anticipated. Eventually,

nowadays the term cruise goes beyond having a pleasurable sea trip in a liner. It is being

viewed as an attractive voyage, which offers joyful experience, safety, quality food, sport

facilities, shopping centers, entertainment venues and excellent service.

Based on the abovementioned factors of importance of cruise tourism, it can be concluded

that the high quality services and the globalization of operations of cruise providers further

intensify competition among them. In addition both competition and more demanding

customers push the quality limits higher, which altogether fosters the growth of cruise

tourism. As a whole, the researcher has chosen to study this particular type of alternative

tourism due to the fact that it represents a chief part of world tourism and due to its

considerable global significance in terms of its economic, social, cultural and environmental

impacts.

2. Literature review

In present times, the cruise ship segment of leisure tourism has received a lot of attention by

academic literature (Duman, 2002, Kester, 2003). In real terms, the interest in the segment is

justified by its enormous growth reaching over $ 1900 million in 2005 (Datamonitor, 2005).

According to the European Cruise Council (2005) the market is still in its growth stage and is

not likely to stagnate in the short run. As a matter of fact, the growth tendency is valid for

regions such as Eastern Europe for example, as cruise tourism represents a narrow

segment of the tourism market (Euromonitor International, 2007). However, a review of the

e x i s t i ng literature on cruise tourism has revealed that there is a lack of researches on the

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Eastern European cruise tourism market and particularly Bulgaria as a prospective

destination given its rich resources and location.

2.1 The origins of cruise tourism and competitive landscape

Essentially, the origins of cruise tourism stretch back to the ninetieth century with the first

ship sailing from UK to Portugal and Spain (Dickinson and Vladimir, 2007). In series of press

releases in the first half of 2005 the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) has illustrated the

unparalleled growth of the industry ever since.

In an actual fact, the roots of the modern cruise tourism date back to sixties of the previous

century (Catright and Baird, 1999). Due to the fact that the number of passengers declined

rapidly with the introduction of transatlantic flights, optimistic shipping entrepreneurs

decided to shift their business and position themselves as holiday service providers as

oppo sed to transportation. As a result, the first movers in the face of “Carnival Cruise Lines”

(1972), “Royal Caribbean Cruise Line” (1969) and “Norwegian Caribbean Line” (1966)

established the initial structure of the new subtype of alternative tourism industry. By the end

of 1970 the number of passengers who took a cruise was limited to less than half a million

tourists (Cruise Line Association, 2005).

Hitherto, no expert in the field anticipated so swift growth of the cruise industry during the

past ten years (Murray, 2005). The robust growth coupled with the lucrative investment

opportunities have led to the development of contemporary equipped ships, attractive

cruise lines and establishment of cruise conglomerates. Identifying travel characteristics

could thus be regarded as essential element in understanding the actual cruise tourism

performance, and as a tool which enables effective planning of marketing schemes to

explore potential markets (Hung and Petrick, 2009).

Naturally, the growth of the sector, coupled with the self-enhancing trends for provision of

superior service quality, have brought intense competition. Viewed from another perspective,

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intense competition not only enhances the dynamics of the market, but it also pushes prices

down thus working in favor of broader customer base which could not afford cruise trip

previously. Additionally, as the customer base augments, clients are becoming more

demanding, which also results in necessity for companies to offer better value to their

customers (Travel Trade, 2001).

Other scientists have studied the market structure of cruise tourism and have found that the

industry is dominated by oligopoly with three major players holding approximately 75% of its

total value (Wood, 2004). The author also highlights that most major players flag their vessels

in countries with lower control and less stringent legislation, where exemptions are possible.

Thus levels of competition and actual outcomes of rising standards are distorted due to the

domination of the big players.

2.2 Present-day cruise tourism

Nowadays, cruise tourism is deemed by scholars as one of the most rapidly expanding types of

alternative tourism (Dickinson and Vladimir, 1997). The compound annual growth since 1980

rate is deemed to have been over 8% (Figure 1) which is twice the growth of tourism in

general (Crociere, 1999).

Figure 1 Global Summary Statistics for the Cruise Industry, 2004 – 2007

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In this regard, several scholars have investigated different characteristics of cruise ships.

Dowling and Vasudavan (2000) and Wood (2004) have studied the growth of the cruise sector

and its impacts on the economies of different ports (Wilkinson, 1999; Dwyer and Forsyth,

1998). Other researchers have devoted a great deal of time studying customer relationship

management on cruise ships (Petrick, 2003) and the working conditions on a cruise liner

(Mather, 2002).

In terms of on board services, Ritzer (1993) argues that volume is often used as a proxy for

quality. In view of this, cruise ship companies put a strong emphasis on the size and amenities

on board, as well as the wide array of entertainment and other activities offered on the vessel

throughout their marketing campaigns. As a whole, the major source of competition between

cruise providers has evolved to one that is based on facilities and range of activities (Sarna and

Hannafin, 2003).

According to Myers (2007) the chief reason for customers choosing a cruise holiday is to get

rid of strict rules imposed outside the cruise ship. According to the author land holidays are

subject to more stringent norms, which are not witnessed when on a cruise holiday.

Conversely, Edgell (1990) argues that safety and security have always been an important

factor considered by travelers.

Overall, cruise holidays are normally promoted as single, all inclusive vacation, incorporating

all elements and satisfying all needs and wants a customer may have during a holiday. For

some tourists the cruise vessel represents the actual destination as opposed to the ports of

call (Dowling and Vasudavan, 2000).

2.3 Major companies and types of tourism

At present day, there are three major cruise corporations: Carnival, Royal Caribbean

International and Star Cruise Corporation (Dowling, 2006). Despite the limited number of

providers of such services, the growing interest in cruise tourism leads to building, improving

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and providing new, bigger and more modern liners. The need for such enhancements was

recognized more than forty years ago. At the end of 1970 ’s some new improvements were

introduced as part of the entertainment programs on cruise lines. Cruisers could already enjoy

their stay better, going to cinemas, discos and casinos (Jordan, 2002). Subsequently, the year

2004 witnessed the launch of the then the world ’s largest cruise liner – Queen Mary 2, costing

US $800 million and being able to carry around 3100 passengers and over 1000 crew members

(Dowling, 2006).

As highlighted before, since the beginning of cruise tourism travels, North America, Central

America and Europe have established themselves as major cruise spots. Substantially, in 2004

the North American market for cruise tourism earned the highest net profit among all

destinations (Klein, 2005). Furthermore, despite being a lucrative element of alternative

tourism, a cruise destination should be viewed as a complex matter that incorporates the

development of sustainability of cruise tourism (Hritz and Cecil, 2008). To be able to better

understand the sustainability prospects of cruise tourism, one has to determine the types of

customers that choose this type of alternative tourism and their attributes. The Cruise Line

International Association (CLIA) has defined six different groups of people in the cruise

market. The first one includes people who intend to try something new, another group unites

people who would like to escape from habitual everyday way of living, and still others are

seeking to learn more about different destinations. Moreover, there are two less popular

groups defined with regards to their preferences: customers who are wealthy and look for

luxury experience and such who search for the best value. Finally, according to Miller and

Grazer (2002), the last group is the senior social segment.

Provided these six distinct categories of customers, cruise companies can more easily choose

the target audience to concentrate on. However, it is also important to outline that first time

cruisers usually represent a very high percentage of travelers on a ship. It is also vital to be

pointed out that usually customers buy packages that respond to their wants and desires, but

prior to purchasing media impact exerts a significant influence on the final buying decision.

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Consequently, after the first cruise voyage comes either future satisfaction or dissatisfaction,

perceived as a result of participation and experience (Trauer, 2004).

Essentially, it is valuable and less expensive to build up loyalty and retain current customers

than to attract new ones (Petrick et al., 2006). The case of Bar Harbor is a good instance of

satisfied customers, not only first-time visitors, but also loyal clients who were satisfied with

the time spent at the destination during their cruise. Such customers are likely to bring better

returns and become an additional source of income for the suppliers of cruise services (Gabe

et al., 2006). Alternatively, despite the cruise destination ’s attractiveness, social contacts also

play a major role in retaining customers. In particular, according to Yarnal and Kerstetter

(2005), in cases of repeated cruise partaking social relationships grow from acquaintances to

friendships as those people share same or similar experiences.

2.4 Place in literature

The cruise tourism and the cruise market in general represent a very compelling aspects of

tourism. On the one hand, the offers from various cruise providers are evolving at a very fast

pace and thus they fulfill the needs and desires of a much diversified customer base. On the

other hand, the specific types of services needed on a cruise ship determine some

communication and service attributes with regards to customers”

culture and lifestyle that

are a very attractive part of academic literature.

This study illustrates the importance of those attributes by also focusing on the purchasing

activity. Every tourist who chooses a cruise vacation is showered with information from

multiple sources and despite the decision on which one to opt for, they have to decide

whether the particular itinerary suits their needs.

Finally, this research aims at investigating the background and current state of the cruise

tourism in Bulgaria. Not only it analyzes the market, but the research also incorporates

demand alternatives and future projections of the market as a part of the tourism industry in

the country. Based on the abovementioned, inferences about the possible micro and macro

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environment positive and negative impacts are drawn. The outcomes of the study hold

considerable managerial implications as they disclose the importance of efficient maintenance

of strategic policy towards the demand for cruise tourism.

3. Analysis of the development of cruise tourism in Bulgaria

3.1 Analysis of tourism supply

Bulgaria is a country featuring a strategic location, which makes it very suitable for the

development of tourism, including cruise tourism. Both sea and river cruises’

outreach can

be successfully expanded.

The major types of cruise tourism that can be developed in Bulgaria are river and sea cruises.

In this chapter, the chief factors that predispose the expansion of these types of cruise

tourism will be explained and potential cruise destinations in Bulgaria will be highlighted.

River cruises: main resource for that type of cruise tourism is the Danube River. The river

has a number of characteristics that make it a key factor for cruise tours:

It is the longest river in the European Union a nd Europe's second longest river after

Volga River.

Danube flows through ten countries- Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia,

Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine and more than seventy cities in

Europe

The river passes through ten cities in Bulgaria- Vidin, Kozloduy, Lom , Nikopol,

Oryahovo, Belene, Svishtov, Rousse, Silistra and Tutracan

An important factor nearby the river is Srebarna Natural Reserve

A significant transport route- Rhine –Main –Danube Canal, Danube- Tisa-Danube Canal;

Danube-Black Sea Canal.

Ports- Rousse, Vidin (Kirschner et al. , 2009)

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Sea cruises: the Eastern border of the country- Black Sea- is the main resource for cruise

tourism and the third in Europe after the Mediterranean Sea and the Northern Sea. The

region is an important center of tourism during the summer season, drawing millions of

foreign and local tourists alike and constituting one of the country's most popular tourist

destinations. Additionally, the following characteristics have a positive impact on enriching the

tourist diversity:

Inland sea; the Bosporus st rait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the

Dardanelles c onnects it to the Aegean Sea region of the Mediterranean; strait of Kerch

connects it to the Sea of Azov.

the sea lies between 6 countries: Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine

main towns- Varna, Bourgas, Pomorie, Balchik, Nessebar, Kavarna and Sozopol

Holiday resorts-Ahtopol, Albena, Balchik, Burgas, Byala, St. Constantine and Helena, E mona,

Golden Sands, Kamchia, Kavarna, Kiten, Lozenetz, Nessebar, Obzor, Pomorie, Primorsko,

Rusalka, Sozopol

Ports- Varna, Bourgas, Nessebar,Balchik, Sozopol (Allnutt, 2007)

Potential cruise destinations in Bulgaria are available in Table 1 below. Namely, those are:

Varna, Bourgas, Sunny beach, Kavarna, Balchik, Nessebar, Ahtopol, Sozopol, Rousse, Vidin(Jamieson, 2005; http://www.bulgariansearesorts.com ; http://www.grao.bg/ ):

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Table 1 Potential cruise destinations in Bulgaria:

City Location Availability

of airport

Size

(population)

Important characteristics

Varna Northeast 357 821 deemed as the sea capital of Bulgaria; biggestseaside city

Burgas Southeast 218 556 Burgas has the largest and most importantBulgarian port; second largest sea city

Sunny

Beach

Southeast - 12 995 The seaside resort is the biggest and mostpopular holiday resort i n Bulgaria. Itaccommodates tourists in over 800 hotels withmore than 300 000 beds.

Kavarna Northeast - 12 804 seaside resort in the Dobrudja region of

northeastern Bulgaria w here a little port existsBalchik Northeast - 12 998 A coastal town a nd seaside resort in the

Southern Dobrudja area Nessebar Southeast - 11 165 Nessebar has emerged as a fortified Thracian

settlement over 9,000 years ago and changedmany times before being captured by theBulgarians in the 7th century.

Sozopol Southeast - 4 732 seaside resort mostly known for theApolonia art and film festival

Ahtopol Southeast - 1 321 close to the border with Turkey

Rousse Northeast 173 672 The Rousse-Giurgevo Friendship Bridge, the onlyone in the shared Bulgarian - Romanian section of the Danube, crosses the river nearby.

Vidin Northwest - 65 139 A ferryboat complex, on the opposite side of theriver, connects Vidin with Calafatis and is located2 km away from the town. The complex is to bereplaced by the Vidin-Calafat bridge.

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Table 2 : Type of Bulgarian ports and possibility for accommodating large ships

Port Sea port River port Availability

for large ships

(S- strong, W-

weak)

Pier/Berths

as a structure S-

strong, F - fair,

W-weakVarna S FBurgas S FNessebar W FSozopol W WBalchik W WRousse S F

Vidin S F

One of the major cruise companies in Bulgaria is Contitrans-M ltd. (http://www.contitrans-

m.com ). Customers are offered customized cruise voyages and planned trips and the

company ensures good quality of its tourist product.

The Bulgarian cruise market segment is expanding at a quick pace, which is further fostered

by the changing demand patterns and altering strategic policies of cruise tourism

suppliers. In an actual fact, the supply from foreign companies is greater than that from

Bulgarian ones. Some organizations such as Holland America, NCL, MSC, Louis Cruises and Star

Cruises provide information about the cruises, cruise lines, packages to the Bulgarian market.

The particular segment has evolved from an expensive experience for wealthy people to a

mass product targeting the broader public. This was primarily attributable to price

downward shifts and shorter cruise time. However, one of the chief disadvantages of cruise providers in the country is the lack of proper communication with current and

prospective customers. Effectively, information on cruise attractions and availability is vague

and the message is not designed to serve the needs of customers.

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Although, Bulgaria has a great potential for developing its cruise segment, there is an

emerging need for improvement of the supply connected with cruise tourism in the country.

Table 3 indicates the international companies, which include Bulgaria as a cruise

destination in their itinerary.

Table 3: Offered cruises in Bulgaria

Company Length of stay Port of call Dates of visiting

Azamara 12,14,23,26-day cruise Varna Aug.3,12,20,2010

Seabourn

Cruises

14,21,28-day cruise Varna Jul.10,17,2010

Princess

Cruises

12-day cruise Varna Aug 7, Sep 12,2010

NCL 10-day cruise Varna Sep 29,2009

Uniworld 16,28,30 nights cruise Rousse Mar.23,Apr.5,15,18,May

14,27, Jun 9, Jul.5,6,31, Sep. 16,28,

Oct.8,2010Uniworld 8,14 day-cruise Vidin, Rousse,

Varna

Apr 4,May 4,2009

Imperial 15-day cruise Nessebar Jul.12,16,26,Aug.

5,9,19,29,Sep.2,12,2010

Discovery

world

cruise

31,32,43,45,47,60,74,89- day

cruise

Nessebar Feb 27, Apr10,25, Mar

27,Aug 31,Sep

18,30,Oct 11,2009,Mar

15,Apr 12,27,2010Seabourn 14,21,28-day cruise Nessebar Jul.10,17,2010

Silver seaCruise

7-day cruise Nessebar Jun19,2010

Crystal

Cruises

12-day cruise Nessebar Jul 19,Aug 24, 2010

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The most popular port of call in the country is Nessebar. The majority of cruises take place in

over 10 days, but the stays on a Bulgarian port are not more than 10 hours. From economical

point of view, this suggests reduced profits for Bulgarian marketers and mitigated revenue

sources for the country ’s economy. All in all, the demand for cruise tourism in Bulgaria is

predetermined by some economic prerequisites, but it is also objective to mention that some

leisure trends, income increments and Western European lifestyle exert influence on the

growth of the segment.

3.2. Analysis of tourist demand

Tourists who choose cruise voyages for their holidays are much diversified not only socially,

but also in terms of preferences, motivation and purchasing behavior (Vianelli, 2009).

Although Bulgaria has resources and potential to develop its cruise tourism, the latter are not

sufficient to achieve it. Particularly, the lack of information provided to customers is one of

the major factors that exert negative influence. Recommendations from friends, Internet

issues, personal experience, travel agencies, brochures and magazines, different media

sources are the key factors that may have influence on the decision making process of holiday

destination selection. However, Bulgaria has a lot to improve in this aspect.

Some articles indicate that there is a growing demand from Russian customers to the

Bulgarian cruise market. Moreover, there is a high propensity for cruise tourism growth in

both countries given the rapidly growing demand. Additionally, the majority of cruisers are

Americans, who usually travel in luxurious and expensive lines, British, Canadian, German,

Dutch and French. Most of the ships use flag of convenience - they fly Panamas ’, Malta ’s

flags, but mostly Bahamas ’ flag (Kitanov, 2009, Director of Marine station, Varna, Bulgaria).

Many vessels of British, American, German, Portuguese, French, Greek, Dutch, Cypriot

companies sail to Bulgarian ports and mainly to Varna ’s seaport.

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There are three categories of ships that have a stop in the country, which are presented in

Table 4 below:

Table 4: Ships ’ category and capacity

Weight of ships in tons Length of ships in

meters

Capacity (berths)

25000-30000 220-250 800-110018000-25000 200-220 400-600Up to 4000 100 150-200

Source: Kitanov (2009), Director of Marine station, Varna, Bulgaria

Meanwhile, there is a lack of new and well equipped vessels. Furthermore, ports ’

infrastructure is relatively poor. Bulgaria is planning to build new ports besides the existing

ones – ports of Varna, Burgas, Balchik, Nessebar. Despite the prospective focus on Russian

tourists, there are many infrastructural standards that have to be met in order to reach

satisfactory service level.

Alternatively , the demand is always dependent on the public’s income. Bulgaria can focus its

target marketing on English, German, and Russian tourists, due to the latter ’s positive travel

intensions and stable economic status. The neighbor countries Serbia, Hungary, Moldova,

Slovakia and Czech Republic can also be targeted as they have demonstrated growing interest

in cruising (Allnutt, 2007).

Eventually, it can be summarized that Bulgaria is a country with developing cruise tourism, but

at the same time it does not utilize its resources fully and does not offer sufficient services to

expand its foreign tourist demand. It can be outlined that there is insufficient communication

with current and prospective customers, which includes poor advertising and no support by

the government.

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3.3 SWOT analysis

Strengths

Location and resources – Bulgaria features a very good location in Europe, which

provides the country with outstanding benefits with regards to its tourism development.

Additionally, the multitude of ports on the Black sea coast and the Danube River

predispose the emerging growth of cruise tourism. Being considered as a popular

tourist destination, Bulgaria offers number of attractions and natural sites listed in the

World Heritage list. The country offers reasonable prices, which also contributes to the

growth of cruise and other types of tourism.

Weaknesses

Lacks of information – customers are not provided with enough information on

the cruise voyages available, which hampers the growth of the segment.

Unpopularity - Bulgaria, despite its advantages geographically and naturally, is notamong the countries with an established image of cruise destinations.

Opportunities

Future pricing structure - The country could take as an advantage its generally

reasonable prices for foreigners to develop strong target

management and product differentiation according to needs and expectations of targetgroups in future. This factor may well serve the need of customers from countries with

lower average income.

Inclusion in foreign cruise itineraries – the country’s inclusion maylead to a greater

demand from foreign customers following infrastructural developments. This can be

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achieved through the support of government and media sources. Finally, in order to

avoid intensification of international competition, shortage of capital stock and

incorrect development planning, the country has to be concentrated on differentiation

initiatives.

Threats

Limited future expected port growth – the limited growth of Bulgarian ports may restrict

the future interest in the country as a cruise destination, both as infrastructure and

capacitywise.

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4. Discussion and conclusion

There are ships that represent exclusivity and traditions featuring great facilities, lots of

entertainment, fine dining, and many others. Passengers enjoy comfort, dining and extremeexperience. Some ships these days are so gigantic that they can offer more diversions than

an average small town, but even ships that are not so enormous have all the facilities a

person can imagine a cruise ship possesses.

Bulgaria has always been very well developed country in the field of tourism and attracts

millions of people every year. The country combines in its comparatively small land all the

natural resources - forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, greenery, classy resorts and longcoastline that entice foreign and local tourists.

Because of its size, Bulgaria cannot offer huge ports, but it can rather improve the existing

ones infrastructure. In addition, as a host country, it can make good first impression to visitors

by organizing different activities and excursions around the ports. In this respect, the country

has done the first step towards utilization of resources. In particular, during spring until

autumn two of the most attractive towns along the Black sea coast (Varna and Nessebar)become harbors to many cruise liners. Despite the fact that these ports of call are visited by

many tourists, the country has a lot more to do in order to be able to exploit the full potential

of this type of alternative tourism.

If the duration of stay is longer, passengers could be offered to points of interest along the

route, which could include medieval villages, museums, wine cellars, and colorful open

markets. A tranquil cruise experience coupled with fine dining and excellent service is a mustfor experienced cruisers seeking something different and charming. Answers to questions

such as “What kinds of people are coming?”, “Why are they coming?”, “ What more can we

offer them?” need to be studied in order to effectively develop cruise tourism in the country.

Commercialization and building brand awareness are of no less crucial importance. These

could be achieved by extensive media communication. People will be interested and willing to

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try something new and different. Their choice would be influenced by tour operators, who can

include Bulgaria as a destination of their itinerary. In general, the public is becoming more

and more intelligent and if it is being offered compelling attractions, the likelihood of them

visiting Bulgaria again is very high, especially when it comes down to cruise tourism.Regarding the fact that there is insufficient information provided to customers, it will be

wise involving incentive based reward system to travel agents so as they can contribute to the

popularization of cruise tourism. Thus both parties will benefit from the prospects of this

type of alternative tourism in the country. Utilizing marketing campaigns has a real potential

to augment revenues and bring more international tourists to Bulgaria.

Finally, the life cycle curve of the Bulgarian cruise market is still in its introduction stage.Essentially, the country now faces the need to introduce the market, both potential and

existing, to the characteristics of the cruise product itself. Building up a positive image of

Bulgaria as a cruise destination and achieving high awareness is likely to become an additional

source of revenue for the country ’s economy.

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