Let’s Rediscover Bulgaria in All Seasons
What does the national strategy for tourism development stipulate?
Our vision and strategy consist of presenting Bulgaria both on its territory and worldwide as an all year round tourist destination, as
undoubtedly it is. However, its full potential undeveloped. Up to the present moment Bulgaria is known to a certain extent as an attractive place for winter and sea tourism. All ongoing projects and initiatives of the Ministry are directed towards its popularization as an all year round tourist destination with a focus on the specialized types of tourism, namely: mostly culture, village, and SPA and wellness tourism.
Are these the types of tourism in Your opinion that would be most successfully developed in our country?
These are the types of tourism we have wonderful datum about, in other words – the resource for them is available. Unfortunately, however, these forms of tourism are neither developed enough yet, nor known enough, even among the Bulgarian citizens, so they must only now popularized and developed. Funds under various operative programmes and European programmes will be directed to those places that develop these types of tourism. Municipalities, the business sector, and tourist associations need to unite their efforts towards their development.
The role of tourism is to contribute to overcoming disproportion in the development of the various regions, and to increasing the employment level of the local population. The development of internal tourism and its specialized forms will gradually lead to overcoming that disproportion.
You have just recently presented the project of MIET “Rediscover Bulgaria”, which You are working on. What is the purpose of this project?
The initiative “Rediscover Bulgaria“ will involve representatives of the media and the general public in the process of encouraging the internal tourism via the popularization of less known and unknown spots in the country. The idea of this all is to rouse interest for less popular tourist products that have potential in the field of eco and village tourism, SPA and wellness tourism, and the cultural cognitive tourism.
We do believe that the presentation of new tourist products and unknown destinations to the Bulgarian tourists will be a key factor for the success of our strategy. Besides warming up internal tourism, this will also give additional stimulus for the tourist field to offer to the Bulgarians new and high quality products.
There is a competition for journalist materials “Rediscover Bulgaria” held within the initiative, as well as collection of proposals for the 50 most interesting and unpopular tourist sites in the country.
Media representatives from the whole country have already become members of an informal media club called “Rediscover Bulgaria”, the objective of which is the ongoing encouragement of the interest towards the presentation of unpopular destinations. In the end of March 2011 a list will be created with the help of all club members of the 50 most interesting unknown tourist sites in Bulgaria. In the very beginning of 2011 there will be also proposals given by citizens for these 50 sites. After completing the list, funds will be directed towards the development and popularization of these places.
In which tourist fairs is it necessary to present Bulgaria?
We take part and we will take part with national stands in large fairs of national significance – these are the fairs in London, Berlin, Kiev, and Moscow. We are presented with information stands in the smaller fairs. What is new about the following year is that we plan to take part in fairs where large tour operators present their catalogues for the next season.
We also plan to take part in fairs for specialized types of tourism, which will have a favourable effect on the expansion of our markets as well. We need to have greater activity here on the part of the representatives of this specific field that will make proposals for the fairs where it will be beneficial to participate.
Besides the participation in fairs, we will encourage journalist travels to our country. We have also planned funds for expedient visits of the tour operators that offer Bulgaria as a part of their programmes.
How is our country being advertised? What is the Bulgarian policy with respect to the expansion of our markets?
The integrated campaign held by us for boosting the brand “Bulgaria” on the international tourist markets will allow us to keep our positions stable and even to expand them. In the period from 2006 to 2009 our country spent nearly BGN 3.8 MM for advertising and information materials and souvenirs. The budget planned for this year and the following year is two times bigger, as the financial resource drawn of BGN 6.5 MM for the integrated advertising campaign of Bulgaria is under the “Regional Development” operation allocation of the European Union. Thus, without spending any funds from the state budget, our country will expand its presence on the world markets through the popularization of various forms of tourism in bigger circulation and more language versions. There will be an image brochure in 21 languages called “Bulgaria” that will be prepared under the project. The total circulation of the brochure will be 215 000 copies that will be distributed at both international and national tourist forums and fairs, via our trade representatives abroad and directly to the end users of the Bulgarian tourist products. There is also a plan for the working out of another 9 subject brochures for the specialized types of tourism in 6 languages with total circulation of 635 000 copies, series of foldouts, information guide, tourist map, guidebook to Bulgaria, etc. Up to the present moment our country was on generating markets with a limited number of advertising and information materials, which did not allow it to reach to a wide number of potential tourists, tour operators and agents. The project will fill in these market deficits by presenting the national tourist product in a modern way. The project is a part of the overall strategy of the Ministry in support of the national marketing and is financed under “Regional Development” operation allocation to the total amount of BGN 7.8 MM.
What are the expectations for the winter season?
We expect an increase in the number of tourists of not less than 3% during the new winter season, mostly due to the increased number of visits from Russia, the new line Yekaterinburg – Sofia, and the restored charter flights from Moscow.
There are ongoing negotiations for increasing the frequency of the flights at the Varna and Burgas airports, which will lead to an increase in the number of Russian tourists in the summer as well. From January to September our country was visited by 354 000 citizens from Russian, which was an increase by 32% comparing to 2009. Bookings from Russia have increased up to this moment by 25-30%. We also have great expectations for the World Travel Market Fair in London, where Bulgaria will take part with its own stand. Flight performance at weekly intervals has started at Plovdiv Airport from and to the British capital, as an increase of 2% of tourists is completely achievable under this destination.