Sofia is second in Europe in terms of foreign tourists’ growth in 2017 compared to the previous year. This is indicated by the results of the Mastercard’s 2018 Global Destination Cities Index (GDCI), announced by the company. The Index is based on key figures for the fastest-growing destinations and a deeper understanding of why people travel, how much and how they spend money in different countries.

By 15.2 percent growth compared to 2016, the capital of Bulgaria ranked immediately after Istanbul (16.8 percent) and some of the most popular tourist destinations such as Lisbon (14.6 percent), Paris (13.1 percent), Munich (12.9 percent) and Warsaw (12.3 percent).

In the case of foreign visitors who paid a trip to the city for the period 2009-2017, Sofia ranks in fifth place in Europe. With 9.0 percent annual average growth the capital of Bulgaria ranks immediately after Bucharest (10.3 percent), Lisbon (10.6 percent), Minsk (10.0 percent) and Santa-Cruz-de-la-Palma (9.3 per cent).

Over the last decade, the GDCI presents important travel data from different parts of the world. In 2017, the most preferred destinations were Bangkok, London and Paris, highlighting the importance of stable infrastructure, offering good business opportunities and entertainment and not least the presence of a strong local culture.

However, not all destinations are equal in terms of costs incurred by foreign visitors during their stay. Dubai remains at the top of the ranking based on average daily consumption made by a city visitor, with an amount of $537. In this ranking, apart from the expected destinations, Mecca (Saudi Arabia) is emerging for the first time to rank in second place, Palma de Mallorca in Spain and Pucket in Thailand. Istanbul, which is among the most visited cities, has the lowest indicator of 108 dollars.

Meanwhile, the figures show that tourists who visited the Bulgarian capital increased the costs they were spending during their stay. In our country only for the last two years, there is almost 20 percent increase in the expenditure for tourists. However, there are still many outstanding issues and problems faced by our capital to respond to the increased influx of people from the country and from abroad and become an enriched and modern city.