Abstract

Maria Vodenska

International Business School

Bulgaria

maria_vod@mail.bg; mvodenska@ibsedu.bg

 

Teodora Georgieva

International Business School

Bulgaria

tgeorgieva@ibsedu.bg

 

Business Events as a Factor for Destination Sustainable Tourism Development

 

Sustainable development being the major political issue of contemporary tourism is the goal of many tourist destinations. And if we can accept that the main points of sustainable development and its indispensability are quite clear, the implementation of this concept in practice turns out to be a difficult task which could not find its solution in many destinations. Of key importance for the implementation of sustainable tourism are the instruments applied for that.  Indicators and norms for sustainable tourism development are being developed and introduced across the world. In many cases an important indicator for sustainability of the destination is its seasonality. Research shows (Vodenska, 2006) that in destinations with all-year-round tourism sustainability is much higher than in heavily seasonal destinations.   Many destinations try to limit seasonality through the organization of events outside the active tourist season. Events attract additional visitors who use the already existing accommodation, catering and entertainment facilities. Moreover these visitors are often businessmen who are ready to pay more for luxury goods and services.  The present research aims at the investigation of the role of business events for decreasing seasonality and thus increasing tourism sustainability in tourism destinations and namely in the national tourist resorts of Bulgaria. The reason for choosing them is that they represent separate destinations for which enough statistical and other data is readily accessible. There are 8 national resorts in Bulgaria the majority of them being seaside resorts. Only two of them are mountain resorts famous for their skiing facilities. A main disadvantage of all of them is their high seasonality.  Most of the resort private hotels try to prolong their tourist season by organizing business and other events. The aim of the paper is to investigate how this activity helps decrease seasonality and increase tourism sustainability in the resorts.  The formulated hypothesis is that despite the fact that most business events are short-term (mostly 2 to 4 days) they represent a significant factor for lowering seasonality and maintaining the destination sustainability.  The methods used for this research are based mostly on secondary information – data from Bulgarian Statistical Institute is analysed and conclusions are drawn. Primary information is gathered by conducting interviews with hotel managers about the role of business events for prolonging their tourist season and promoting overall tourism sustainability. Some commonly used sustainability indicators are applied, e.g. No of nights and visitors outside the high season, No of permanent staff, percentage of local staff, etc.  The anticipated results are quite optimistic – preliminary research shows that hotels which have adequate facilities for hosting business events are quite big and play an important role in the overall resort development. It is expected that these hotels are able to keep their staff for longer periods than the high season itself and that this staff is mostly local. The investigation looks also into some problems of business events organization in Bulgarian resorts and the reasons for that. It is expected that the formulated hypothesis is proved true.