After finding myself enchanted by the rustic setting and relaxed atmosphere of Bansko, Bulgaria, I thought I would study the historic rise of Balkan holidays in a bit more depth.
Sitting comfortably beneath Romania, and nervously sharing a boarder with Turkey, Bulgaria is quickly becoming the new Costa del Sol in terms of its appeal to penny-pinching Brits abroad. In fact, it’s been widely lauded by tourist operators that 2017 will be the year of Eastern Europe among UK holiday-makers.
After shedding the heavy cloak of of Soviet rule in 1989, Bulgaria started building up its capitalist economy in the early noughties. It currently boasts budget holiday destinations for all seasons, from notorious party resort Sunny Beach; to majestic ski slopes in the mountains of Borovets.
Much like their former-Eastern Bloc neighbours, Bulgarians have a steadily rising upper middle class, thanks to newly acquired disposable incomes from emerging, private sector technology markets. This flourish of new money also gives rise to the dirth of other Slavic nationals from Macedonia, Russia, and Croatia gracing the apres-ski lounges and portside champagne bars on weekend breaks.
Known as the Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe, Bulgaria has an impressive portfolio of computer tech companies. These wages, however, are only second to the still lucrative black market in terms of contributions to average household incomes. A hangover from its communist past, the country remains one of the most corrupt in the EU. The taste of which trickles down to the unsavoury sex shops and strip clubs found in family tourist towns.
But, as the threat of modern terrorism – coupled with the falling value of the British pound – increasingly impacts on UK travel policy, and the Eastern trio of Bulgaria, Croatia, and Poland offering 30% cheap package trips than French and Spanish equivalents, it seems like the Slavs really are leading the way in choice holidays in 2017.