by Marian Draganov
SOFIA, May 14 (Xinhua) -- The fourth edition of Camping & Caravanning Expo, the only exhibition focused on camping tourism in Bulgaria, kicked off here on Friday to support the growing demand in this specific sector.
Held in the parking lot of one of the largest shopping centers in the capital of Bulgaria, the three-day event features brands from around the world, offered by 40 companies from Bulgaria and Turkey.
The Expo, free of charge to visitors, features high-end caravans as well as equipment for outdoor activities, such as tents, clothing, kitchenware, insect repellents, books and travel guides.
Veselin Valev, manager of the event's organizer Camping.bg, told Xinhua that the aim of the exhibition is to promote this "healthy" form of outdoor recreation.
According to Valev, there are about 90 campsites in Bulgaria, and at least five new ones are opened every year. "This type of tourism is developing extremely dynamically in our country," Valev said.
Freedom camping is generally not prohibited in Bulgaria except in some places, he said.
Since last year, camping tourism has become popular again around the world, not least because of the pandemic-related restrictions, Valev said.
Ivelin Todorov, manager of a company that sells campers and caravans of various global brands, told Xinhua that he expects a boom in Bulgaria's camper market.
The coronavirus certainly contributes to this, but perhaps the main reason is the rising standard of living in the country, he said.
"Since we have been on the market, we have grown 100 percent each year on an annual basis," said another exhibitor, Denis Lapshov, manager of a Bulgarian company that has invented an eco-friendly fireplace and barbecue lighter.
Ivan Ivanov, a man in his 50s wearing hiking clothes and a large backpack as if he had just come from the nearby mountain, said he was an avid tourist.
"The exhibition is good. It may be small for a European country, but it's good because there are all kinds of things," Ivanov said.
He said he didn't buy anything. "I'm just looking. Ideas are more important than material gains."