5. Analysis and evaluation of the development of tourism

The present state of tourism is estimated by considering the above characteristics and requirements of contemporary sustainable cultural tourism. From that point of view could be made the following general positive assessment of development of tourism:

  • Nessebar derives considerable economic benefits from the proximity of the tourist resort Sunny Beach, which contributes to the constant growth of the number tourists visiting the Ancient City. Their number in the last years increases from 469 280 people (2005) to 779 470 people (2010), parallel to the vigorous growth of the investments in Sunny Beach (the total number of beds in the Municipality Nessebar is around 600 000 by 2011).

  • The Municipality organises a number of initiatives for raising the quality of tourism: activities of the Ancient Nessebar Museum; commissions pilot projects for the adaptation of the medieval churches; development of cultural tourism route “Road of Spirit” (within the frames of pilot product № 3) etc.

  • Tourist subjects on the territory of the Municipality and in other tourist centres show definite interest to the Ancient City of Nessebar.

The results of the carried out monitoring, juxtaposed to the mentioned modern trends in cultural tourism, show also the following problems:

  • The property does not function as a complex cultural tourism product corresponding to its outstanding universal value. To that contributes the pointed problematic state – the lack of access (from all 15 churches only three are open to visitors); the defects in the communication and information infrastructures; the chaotic location of shopping and dining sites, as well as entertainment sites in the public areas. As a result of the above, for the period 2005-2010 the percentage of the tourists who visited the property aiming at cultural tourism is only 8.5 %.

  • There is a great asymmetry between the visits in the Ancient City for “tourism” (visits with overnight stay) – 0.7% in 2010, and for “excursion” (visits without overnight stay) – 99.3%. On the Public Discussion of the MP it was reaffirmed that in the Ancient City tourists are rarely accommodated – room there are used mainly by seasonal workers. One of the explanations of this is the fact that the tourist infrastructure most often copies the standard conditions of the Sunny Beach hotels, in spite of offering the unique atmosphere of the examples of vernacular architecture.

  • With its unsustainability tourism threatens the outstanding universal value of the property. The necessary economic relation between the cultural heritage and tourism is not regulated, more specifically – directing of part of the profit from tourist activities to the preservation of the property.

  • There is lack of urban cultural tourism routes related to other multi-municipal and national tourist products, as well as to the networks of the European cultural roads.

  • The role of the local population is not enough active, whose participation is limited to routine tourist activities and renting. There is lack of initiative and imagination, especially by the presentation of local traditions, crafts, skills and living culture. To that contribute also the impediments that local people are subject to due to the restrictions of the protection regimes, without getting any stimuli, compensation and public support. There is lack of both sufficient capacity for modern cultural tourism and policy in the field of employment of the population in the sphere of cultural tourism. With drifting away from traditional activities part of the intangible heritage are lost valuable possibilities for holding out opportunities for new working places. There is lack of control on the tourist guide activities and on the payment of taxes by people executing certain activities on the territory of the property.

  • A relatively poor annual cultural calendar in the property was established, with a rather unsatisfactory participation of modern arts, bearing the spirit of creativity and artistry.

  • In “The Ancient City of Nessebar” exists a strongly manifested seasonal asymmetry with considerable difference in the number of visitors in the high season (up-to 50 000 people daily) and out of it (below 4 000 in peak-days in the interval October-May). This shows unsustainable development, insufficient evaluation of the cultural potential and unused possibilities for integration with mass tourism (for instance with the out-of-the-season congress tourism in Sunny beach).

  • The low economic activity of tourism in “The Ancient City of Nessebar” does not correspond to its exceptional potential as site of the World heritage. Data for the average income coming from a rented room show that the market-percentage of the Ancient City compared to the general offering in the town of Nessebar (old and new parts) is around 0.7%. For 2010 the average rate of the overnight stay offered to Bulgarian and foreign organised or unorganised tourists in the Ancient City for 3-star accommodation (as categorised by the Ministry of Economics, Energy and Tourism) was 34.02 BGN, while the average occupation for the summer season varied within the frames of 49.5%. The average income from a rented room (Rev PAR) was 33.67 BGN, while the income from a room for the season in the 3-star hotels – 4 040.40 BGN (for comparison, similar income has the town of Vratsa, while in Dubrovnik, also World Heritage Site, it is 12 000 EUR, according to Horvat&Horvat Cons.). The low incomes have a de-motivating effect on the local community especially by the lack of sufficient public support. The pointed problems do not offer opportunities for regeneration of urban economics, respectively – for enhancement of the quality of the environment and the well-being of the local residents.

  • Lack of tourist innovation and strategy for marketing management of the destination was established. On the basis of this could be observed lack of adequate promotion strategy for launching of the outstanding universal value of the property to the European and world tourist markets using contemporary methods and technologies.

  • Serious defects are detected in the strategic planning and programming of the property as unique universal destination of cultural tourism. In the “Strategic Plan for the Development of Cultural Tourism in Bulgaria” are not considered the belonging of the Ancient Nessebar to the World Heritage and its exceptional potential for all-year cultural tourism (as paradox the Ancient City of Nessebar is referred as “Other monumental and architectural monuments”).

The pointed shortcomings are result both of lack of adequate management of tourism and of imperfection in the rules and regulations in the field of cultural heritage and tourism.

On the basis of the above assessment could be drawn the conclusion that in “The Ancient City of Nessebar” there is no active cultural tourism corresponding to modern requirements.