Dolphins are one of the smartest mammals. They can mimic voices, demonstrate empathy, grief, and joy. There are around 40 different species of dolphins. The Bottleneck Dolphin is the smartest of all dolphins. They are usually very social and easy to train. They have a friendly appearance and higher life expectancy (30-50 years) than most other species of dolphins. Therefore, they are usually kept in Dolphinariums for entertainment purposes.
Festa Dolphinarium Varna
Last year I visited the Dolphinarium in Varna, Bulgaria. Varna lies on the coast of the Black Sea which is home to 3 species of dolphins: Bottlenose Dolphin, White-sided Dolphin, and Mereswine (Sea Pig).
The dolphins in the Dolphinarium of Varna are the common Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).
The dolphinarium in Varna is owned by Festa Holding. It was inaugurated in 1984 and it is a major tourist attraction in Bulgaria. With over 1.5 million foreign tourists visiting Varna every year before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dolphinarium is a major revenue driver in Bulgaria.
Currently, the Varna dolphinarium has 5 dolphins, namely, Dolly, Joana, Bimbo, Flipper, and Kimbo. There are also two seals in the Dolphinarium, Bianca and Leo.
How Much Revenue Does the Dolphinarium Varna generate?
Varna is a very popular summer destination in Europe. In 2016, over 1.5 million tourists visited Varna.
According to Trip Hobo, 63.77% of tourists who visit Varna visit the Dolphinarium. If I take conservative numbers before the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 1 million tourists visit the Dolphinarium in Varna.
There are two shows, Dolphin Show and ‘Swimming With Dolphins’. The ‘Swimming with the Dolphin’ show was stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic as the authorities feared the transmission of the COVID-19 virus to the dolphins and seals.
The cost of one Dolphin show is 15 lev or €7.50. If I just do the conservative calculation, not taking into account the revenue from souvenirs, the cafe, etc., Festa holding should be earning revenue of €7.5 million annually from the Dolphinarium Varna.