Original publication: September 2017
Author: Beata TUSZYŃSKA, Seconded National Expert
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Transport and Tourism in Bulgaria

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This overview of the transport and tourism sectorsin Bulgaria was prepared to provide information for the mission of the Transport and Tourism Committee to the country between 18 and 20 September 2017


Bulgaria is located in the south-eastern part of the Balkan mountains. The north of the country is dominated by the vast lowlands of the Danube Plain with the river Danube defining the border with neighboring Romania. By contrast, highlands and elevated plains cover most of the southern part of the country.

Transport and Tourism in BulgariaBulgaria neighbors with five countries: Romania in the north, Serbia and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in the west, Greece and Turkey in the south, while the country’s eastern border extends along the Black Sea. In 2016, the country was inhabited by just over 7 million people, which constituted 1.4% of the EU’s population. The most populated cities include Sofia (the country’s capital with more than 1 million inhabitants), Plovdiv (with over 700 thousand), Varna, Burgas and Stara Zagora (all with populations below 500 thousand).

In 2015, the most important sectors of Bulgaria’s economy were industry (23.0%), wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (21.0%) and public administration, defense, education, human health and social work activities (14.5%). For the same year, Bulgaria’s main export partners were Germany, Italy and Turkey, while its main import partners were Germany, Russia and Italy.

Bulgaria’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth remained robust in 2016 at 3.4%, however the country’s economy is expected to grow at a slightly slower pace in the following two years (please see Table 1 below). The domestic demand is believed to be the main growth engine, driven in particular by private consumption and investment following the acceleration in EU funds absorption under the 2014-2020 EU programming period.

Table 1: Macro-Economic Forecasts for Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth remained robust in 2016 at 3.4%, however the country’s economy is expected to grow at a slightly slower pace in the following two years.

At the moment, the country does not have a target date to adopt the euro, and the Bulgarian Lev (BGN) remains the country’s national currency. Bulgaria is currently in the process of joining the Schengen Area. In 2015, Bulgarian contribution to the EU budget amounted to EUR 424 million, which represented 0.99% of the country’s Gross National Income (GNI). At the same time, Bulgaria received EUR 2,730 million from the EU’s budget, equivalent of 6.38% of the country’s GNI. From 1 January 2018, Bulgaria will take over from Estonia the six-month presidency in the European Council.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/601-993

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Further reading: The economic, social and territorial situation in Bulgaria

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