News article

British Embassy Sofia registers a successful local prevention campaign

This world location news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Consular Section marks the end of the summer season by evaluating the Holiday Hangover campaign

The British Embassy ran a consular campaign in Sunny Beach during the summer of 2013 to attempt to reduce the number of serious consular cases affecting young British nationals. During the campaign the Embassy saw a significantly decreased number of serious consular cases reported to them in this year versus 2012.

  • The number of reported hospitalisations reduced by nearly 1/3 from 25 cases in 2012 to 14 in 2013.
  • There was one balcony death in 2013 against six in 2012.
  • The number of arrests of British tourists in 2013 dropped by four times in 2013 compared to 2012 – from nine to two cases.

Through intensive communication on social media platforms, distribution of in-resort materials, close collaboration with partners, the Holiday Hangover campaign focussed on making young British tourists in Sunny Beach more aware about how to protect themselves from dangerous situations, to think through the consequences of their actions and what to do in an emergency.

A key contributor to the success of the campaign has been its well-targeted and simple messages that raised awareness about the consequences of violent behaviour; the importance of behaving responsibly to avoid problems, drinking responsibly and calling 112 and the British Embassy in case of an emergency.

Simon Tucker, British Consul to Bulgaria, commented:

Bulgaria has been a very popular tourist destination among British tourists over the past decade. It is important that holidaymakers have a safe and happy holiday.

We noticed that many of the problems British tourists experienced in Bulgaria are preventable. This sparked the idea behind Holiday Hangover. I am glad that the campaign was a great success and that my Consular team saw fewer serious cases this year than last.

We could not run a campaign like this without our partners in the resort – tour operators, hoteliers, bars and club owners, and the local police force – helping us deliver the Holiday Hangover campaign and making it a success.

About the Holiday Hangover campaign

The Holiday Hangover campaign was run in Greece and Cyprus in previous years and given results there already, the Holiday Hangover has inspired the Consular Section at the British Embassy Sofia to also run the campaign in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria‘s biggest resort.

The campaign, targeted to young tourists, aged 16 to 30, tries to reach those who may engage in risky behaviour and help them think through the consequences. To increase the visibility of the safety tips, the Holiday Hangover campaign uses media that is popular with the target audience – focusing on Twitter and Facebook. Additionally eye-catching posters, beer mats, wrist bands and t-shirts were distributed in Sunny Beach.

The Holiday Hangover campaign is largely related to the messages communicated in the FCO‘s Know Before You Go campaign. These are: check the foreign travel advice and the health risks, look at the travel checklist before planning a trip, get comprehensive travel insurance, research the destination, and check your passport is valid and you have the necessary visa.

About the evaluation of the Holiday Hangover campaign

Two main methods have been used for the evaluation of the effectiveness of the Holiday Hangover campaign – through questionnaires, distributed to tourists in the resort, and online questioners, linked to the campaign‘s Twitter account @HangoverSB and partners’ websites.

Respondents have been asked to evaluate the helpfulness of the distributed information, if it impacted their behaviour and if so how and to what extent. Participants have also been asked to share if they had any unpleasant experience from their holiday in Bulgaria in order to understand what the most common problems are for British nationals abroad.