Bulgaria’s Ministry of Tourism is planning a series of joint forums in 2020 to promote tourism investment and will hold meetings with business representatives from different countries, Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova said at a meeting with foreign ambassadors from 50 countries.
“We are planning a joint initiative with Italy on cultural heritage, we are preparing a business forum with Israel in the area of wellness, spa and cultural and historical tourism, we are working on the idea of a common route with Greece to attract tourists from distant markets,” Angelkova said.
“With the US, we are preparing a campaign to promote Bulgaria on the US market. A bilateral forum with the participation of tour operators from Bulgaria and Turkey is being discussed,” she said.
Angelkova said that a second international investment forum in Sunny Beach is being prepared for spring 2020.
She said that world tour operators such as TUI, business representatives, Bulgarian and international state and financial institutions were invited to participate. “Attracting investment in tourism is one of our main tasks for next year,” she said.
Angelkova said that since the establishment of the independent Ministry of Tourism, international visits have increased by 31 per cent and revenue from them by 34 per cent.
More than 8.3 million foreign tourists visited Bulgaria in January-October, which was a decrease of only 0.4 per cent compared to the same period of 2018, which had been a record year, she said.
Revenue from international tourism in January to September amounted to 3.2 billion euro, again with a minimal decrease, of 0.6 per cent.
“We hope that by the end of the year we will be able to compensate for these slight downturns and take into account the sustainable development of the sector this year,” Angelkova said.
Tourism was an important factor in the Bulgarian economy, accounting for 12 per cent of GDP, she said.
Angelkova undlerlined the importance of the Unified System for Tourist Information – the integration of the tourist information system with protected channels – with the municipalities, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Interior, thus aiming at reducing the grey economy, increasing tax revenues and security for tourists.
Another important feature of this system is that it enables global market analysis based on which various marketing and advertising campaigns are planned, she said.
In 2020, an important priority is to create the status of national resorts through the Tourism Act. They are the face of Bulgarian tourism and all elements of their activity should be clarified – infrastructure management, zones, investments, Angelkova said.
A new initiative of the ministry is to work with bloggers and influencers to promote Bulgaria as a year-round tourist destination, she said.
The improvement of e-services and digitalisation in the sector was continuing. “We plan to develop a special register in which each tourist site has an electronic passport.”
An important topic of debate is mandatory tour operator liability insurance and a change in minimum policy thresholds to guarantee tourists’ compensation, Angelkova said. The topic was especially relevant after the bankruptcy of the oldest tour operator, Thomas Cook, she said.
German ambassador Christoph Eichhorn expressed his gratitude for the warm attitude and assistance to the German tourists who were on holiday in Bulgaria at the time of the announcement of the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook, the Tourism Ministry statement said.
(Rila Monastery. Photo: Raggatt2000.)