Bulgarian leaders said Thursday that Israeli tourists should not shy away from their country, despite a deadly bombing a day earlier near the resort town of Burgas that left six dead, including five Israelis.
Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov, who was one of several Bulgarian government officials to rush to the site of the attack on Wednesday, told Army Radio on Thursday that the attack was “a tragedy, it was absolutely horrible,” but he also emphasized that “this was the first time something like this has ever happened in Bulgaria.”
Mladenov said he “has a good guess” about who was responsible, “but I prefer to allow the security forces to do their job before giving my own opinion.”
President Rosen Plevneliev said Wednesday that, despite the attack, “Bulgaria is not a dangerous destination for tourists.”
Mladenov said: “I want to assure everybody that we are a friendly country. This was a one-time event, and we want tourists to keep coming.”
He expressed his identification and sympathy with the thousands of Israelis who have suffered from terror attacks. Terror should not prevent Israelis from visiting Bulgaria, because “that is exactly what the terror organizations want — to drive a wedge between us and Israeli tourists.”
An Israeli tour guide in Bulgaria told Army Radio he believed Israeli tourists would continue flowing to the southeastern European country.
“No attack will stop us,” he said.
According to the Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism website, 138,613 Israelis visited Bulgaria last year, an increase of more than 6% over the previous year.