Minister Angelkova: Bulgaria and Saudi Arabia are ready for active cooperation in tourism and the economy

11 October 2018

There is still much untapped potential in bilateral contacts in tourism and many other industries between Bulgaria and Saudi Arabia. This was stated by the Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova at a meeting in Riyadh with Saudi Arabia’s first Deputy Minister of Economy and Planning Khalid Al Shonaifi. The talks  took place during her working visit to the Arab country at the invitation of His Royal Highness Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud - Prince of the Kingdom and chairman of the State Commission for Tourism and National Heritage. Saudi Arabia is an important business partner for Bulgaria.

Minister Angelkova said that the tourism sector in Bulgaria has been developing steadily and ascendantly over the last four years since there is an independent ministry. Thanks to the Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, the sector became a priority for the Bulgarian economy and as a result of this, the growth of international tourists significantly increased. Last year, they are over 8.8 million, said Nikolina Angelkova. There has been growth in a number of inbound markets, including from faraway countries such as India, the United States, the Philippines, Brazil.

Tourism offers many opportunities for development - traditional winter and summer tourism, but also many kinds of specialized services - thermal and spa, medical, cultural and historical, gourmet, golf, mountain, etc. A large number of the significant artifacts in Bulgaria are located near mineral springs and attract many tourists for combined services, the Minister said and gave examples with the resorts Sapareva Banya, Sandanski, Hisarya and others. Bulgaria is well-known for its quality food, and therefore the Ministry has created culinary destinations encouraging not only domestic tourism but also the influx of many foreign guests. Each year, we conduct surveys and, on their basis, we implement various promotional campaigns to increase the number of tourists. IT technologies also help us for this in marketing and advertising - for example, through the online platform I Love Bulgaria which reaches a large number of users through the Viber application and not only attracts more visitors but also promotes our landmarks, Minister Angelkova commented.

Two years ago, the two countries signed a memorandum on cooperation in tourism which provides opportunities for active partnership in offering diverse tourist services. In addition, Bulgaria is among the leading outsourcing destinations and I hope it will become an important and strategic partner for Saudi Arabia, Minister Angelkova assured. Attraction of more investments is a leading element in the tourism administration policy and therefore, legal changes have been initiated to facilitate and encourage business projects. Most of the documents needed by entrepreneurs are processed online. This is part of the strategy for sustainable development of the sector by 2030. Among the main priorities of the Bulgarian government in the field of tourism is the positioning of our country as a high-quality year-round tourist destination. The tourism sector in Bulgaria is expected to grow by over 40% in the next 10 years, which will be achieved by attracting more investments, the Bulgarian Minister explained.

Khalid Al Shonaifi said that it is very important that the two economies deepen their cooperation. Tourism offers many opportunities for investment and I believe that this meeting is the beginning of benefiting from each other’s experience, he summed up.

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