The importance of tourism for sustainable development
Tourism is considered important for poverty reduction and economic growth, especially in developing countries. However, this can only be realized if tourism is able to provide employment opportunities as well as create linkage with agriculture and other service proving sectors of a country. It should also stimulate the development of infrastructure such as ports, good roads, and airline facilities which in turn result in overall economic growth. The extent to which the national strategy restricts leakage of finances from the local economy and the effort made to reduce tourism impact on cultural customs and the environment also aid in ensuring tourism leads to economic growth.
Bulgaria is a state with a population of over 7.4 million and covers a territory of around 111 000km2. Agriculture, Mining, and tourism are the major drives of economic growth in the country. Tourism alone contributes directly to over 3.8% of GDP and 3.5% of employment, considering the induced and indirect contribution, the growth rises to around 13.9% f the GDP and 12.8% of employment respectively. This potential for tourism development is as a result of the countries historic and natural diversity represented by the black sea coast, mountains, 9 monuments registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List, over 500 mineral springs, several natural and national parks, cultural reserves, thousands of historic monuments, museums, and festivals among others. It is therefore evident that tourism is a major tool that supports local and regional development. It has a positive impact on related service sectors and industries, economy and employment.
Weaknesses of Bulgarian tourism development
Despite Bulgaria tourism experiencing increased growth over the years, it is also faced by a number of challenges such as limited markets, one-sided product mix, high seasonality of tourism, the low occupancy rate of beds, limited performance indicators and unexploited tourism potential. As a result, action should be taken to bring forth a sustainable tourism development, to better tourism indicators, promote the extensive geographical spread and expand markets and products.