As noted in the Socio-Economic Survey of the Municipality of Belene, prepared in 2009, tourism in the municipality is not developed and has a relatively small share. The impressive width, beautiful shores and slow flow of the Danube near Belene, provide an opportunity for the development of hunting, fishing and route-cognitive tourism. The presence of Persina Nature Park, numerous reserves, protected areas and localities, historical and religious sites also contribute to the development of natural-cognitive and cultural tourism in the area.
In the field of hotels and restaurants there are 32 enterprises for 2012, which occupy a share of 11% of the total number of registered enterprises in the municipality. These are shelters, hotels, restaurants and cafes. The general trend in the sector is maintaining the constant number of companies for the period 2010 – 2012. In 2012 there was a slight increase in the number of realized overnight stays, which in 2013 decreased by about 9 thousand.
NSI data show that the Tourism sector grew in 2011, when sales revenues increased from BGN 1,064,000 in 2010 to BGN 1,226,000. However, the upward trend failed to continue in In 2012 there was a decrease to BGN 1,073 thousand. The same dependence was observed in the realized profit – BGN 78 thousand for 2010, BGN 83 thousand for 2011 and BGN 61 thousand for 2012. In terms of the number of employees, there are also downward movements, in all probability taking into account the profitability of economic entities (75 employees in 2010, 77 employees in 2011 and 70 employees in 2012). Fluctuations in the development of tourism in the municipality of Belene, combined with the ongoing economic crisis in the country, show that in this sector no investment is made in improving the quality of conditions under which tourist and restaurant services are provided, no investments are made in new and -various attractions to attract attendance in human resources (foreign language training and qualification). Thus, the tourist sites are not high enough category and can not provide high quality services to become attractive to customers and investors. The preserved clean environment and the hospitality of the local population are an appropriate basis for the development of tourism in the municipality of Belene. At the moment, the available bed capacity fully satisfies the needs of the tourist flow. In the future, after the development of new tourist attractions and places to visit, and with a reciprocal increase in the number of visitors, the lack of sufficient accommodation will be a serious obstacle to the provision of tourist services. In this regard, it is advisable to encourage a local initiative to open guest houses and small family hotels. Moreover, there is a financial instrument to support investments in this direction – RDP 2014 – 2020.
The analysis of the “Tourism” sector shows that suitable for development in the area of the municipality of Belene are various tourist activities related to the available specific features and resources, such as:
* Historical, architectural and religious sites, tourist services, presenting unique local products and customs. Important for the development of tourism are:
- Ancient Roman fortress “Dimum”;
- The Right Stone, a necropolis of 7 mounds near the village of Dekov, etc .;
- The monuments of the citizens of the municipality of Belene who died in the wars, located in the Park of Gratitude and in the church “Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary” in the town of Belene and on the square in the village of Tatari;
- The ethnographic collections in the National Chitalishte “Hristo Botev-97” in the town of Belene and “Videlina” in the village of Dekov;
- The Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches; In the Catholic church “Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary” is the sanctuary, which preserves the relics of the Blessed Bishop Evgeni Bosilkov.
As an additional stimulus for the development of tourism can be some forgotten crafts, including knitting furniture from reed, basketry, cooperage, blacksmithing and knitting fishing nets.
The typical cuisine of the Belene municipality includes unique local dishes such as: trienitsa (soup with homemade noodles with meat), prasol (Wallachian dish of roasted peppers, tomatoes and eggplant with garlic and roasted fish), fat and mash (type of tutmanik), Turkish delight (type of pans), porridge with yogurt and walnuts, mixed pickles with the gradual addition of all kinds of vegetables and fruits, such as wild pears (sorrel) and green small watermelons, etc.
Traditions and customs
* Use of natural landmarks and protected areas in order to attract new tourists – In this regard, you should consider:
- Persina Nature Park with a total area of 21762.2 ha (217 km²), located along the entire length of the Svishtov-Belen lowland, including part of the surrounding steep Danube bank near Nikopol and Svishtov and all Bulgarian Danube islands in this part of the Danube. The main purpose of its creation is the preservation and restoration of the Danube wetlands, and preservation of the natural state of the numerous islands within its borders. The uniqueness and great importance of the Belene Islands complex is the reason for 24.09.2002 to be declared a Ramsar site, which is the largest in area in Bulgaria – 6 898ha.
- Persian Swamp Reserve, declared as such in 1981, in order to preserve typical Danube marshes and characteristic marsh vegetation, together with the colonies of terns, gulls, cormorants, herons, wild ducks and geese inhabiting them. Its total area is 385.2 ha and includes the following territories: “Pischensko Blato” with an area of 182 ha, “Dead Swamp” with an area of 122.6 ha and “Old Swamp” with “Dulova Bara” with an area of 80.6 ha. Since 1999, the reserve has been re-categorized as a Maintained Reserve and is a wetland of international importance. The reserve is a real paradise for numerous colonies of marsh birds, a nesting swan’s nest and a unique autumn gathering of black storks for the country.
- Natural landmark “Persin-East”, declared by Order №1106 / 02.12.1981 of KOPS with an area of 718.9 ha. These are the easternmost virgin places of Fr. Persin, representing impassable swamps and vast old willow-poplar forests and communities of reeds and rushes. The natural landmark was recategorized in the Protected Area in 2003.
- Kitka Reserve on the island Kitka, declared as such in 1981 and has a total area of 25.4 ha. Its purpose is to preserve the original characteristic vegetation and as a habitat of the sea eagle.
- Milka Reserve, located on the island. Milka, was declared in order to preserve the original characteristic vegetation and as a habitat of the sea eagle. It covers an area of 30 ha.
Kaikusha Protected Area – Includes a remnant of a wetland in the former Svishtov-Belenska floodplain and covers an area of 240 ha. It was declared in order to preserve the natural habitat of rare waterfowl and plant species, as well as the characteristic appearance of the area.
- A natural landmark in the Plavala area, which is a natural locality of the common licorice.
Nikopol Plateau Protected Area, located on the land of the town of Belene and Nikopol Municipality, with an area of 223 ha. It is included in Natura 2000 BG0002074 for the protection of wild birds.
- Protected area “Complex Belene Islands” is located on the land of Belene and has an area of 689 ha. Included in Natura 2000 BG0002017 for the protection of wild birds.
Protected area “Svishtov-Belenska lowland”, which is located in the lands of Belene and Svishtov and has an area of 544 ha. It is included in Natura 2000 Yes BG000208 for the protection of wild birds.
- Kiselets Protected Site is located on the land of the village of Kulina Voda with an area of 10 ha and is included in Natura 2000 – BG0000247 “Nikopol Plateau”.