"The survey was started in early summer and had two main components - the state of cruise tourism in the Bulgarian section of the Danube and testing of the European System of Sustainable Tourism Development", said Prof. Vasil Marinov, head of the research team. He pointed out that the study was assigned by the German Association for International Cooperation as part of a larger project - "Promotion of the economy and employment", designed to stimulate the development of tourism along the Danube River. 60 students studying to obtain a major specialty "Tourism" at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" had taken part in it, too.
From the results of the study it becomes clear that our country has a serious resource potential for this type of tourism. The number of cruises is growing, passenger ships call in the Bulgarian river ports more frequently. There are more tour operators offering such voyages on the Danube, but they are mostly from other countries. On the part of Bulgaria there are two big travel companies which act as partners of foreign tour operators in offering this product.
The river cruise passengers visiting the Bulgarian ports are offered trips in the inland – to the Belogradchick rocks and the town of Belogradchick, to the Ivanovo Rock Churches, to the town of Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanasi. "The tourists from the ships spend there a whole day, and sometimes they stay there even for the night", explained Assoc. Prof. Vera Nikolova, member of the research team. She pointed out that tourists show interest also in prominent European personalities related to the Bulgarian history, such as Nobel laureate Elias Canetti and his house in Ruse.
Most cruise ships stop at the ports of Vidin and Ruse, because the connection to neighboring destinations there is the best, and besides, both towns have a large number of attractions to show to tourists. Another port where cruise ships prefer to drop anchor is Svishtov. From there the tourists are transported directly to Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanasi and then are taken to Rousse.