Minister Angelkova before Bulgarian-American Business Forum: USA is among the generating tourism markets of Bulgaria, we have achieved a lot, but the potential is huge

14 May 2019

The USA is among the 20 leading inbound tourism markets in Bulgaria. Our country is a destination known to American consumers mainly for cultural, natural, eco and ornithological tourism. However, the opportunities we offer are far greater and there is huge potential and excellent prospects to increase tourists on both sides. This was stated by the Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova at the opening of the first Bulgarian-American Tourism Forum in Sofia with the participation of the US Ambassador to Bulgaria HE. Eric Rubin and representatives of business and industry organizations from both countries.

We have huge potential to strengthen the bilateral tourist flow and I am convinced that at today's forum we will outline initiatives that we will incorporate in the National Program for Tourism Advertising of Bulgaria, and together we will implement it, said Minister Angelkova. She recalled the successful advertising campaign for Bulgaria in 6 cities in the USA. Although modest in scale for the vast country, the campaign has achieved very good results, and in 2018, we reported nearly 97,000 visits of U.S. citizens with over 10 percent growth compared to 2017. I believe this is the right approach to consolidate key target markets, including the US. Business and local authorities need joint efforts to attract American tourists not only to our major resorts, but also to the interior of the country, she said.

Minister Angelkova thanked Prime Minister Borisov and his colleagues from the government for their support for the sector, which was raised as a national priority in the economy. She also expressed her satisfaction with the active assistance of the US Embassy in their projects in the field of Bulgarian culture. One of the main emphases in our work is the promotion of cultural and historical tourism, because Bulgaria has a unique material and spiritual heritage, said Minister Angelkova, adding that almost 70 percent of tourists choose Europe because of its culture and history.

The Bulgarian minister noted the record results in the sector, achieved jointly with business and municipalities in recent years after the establishment of the independent Ministry of Tourism. Foreign tourist visits exceeded the 9 million for the first time last year and were over 9.2 million. There were 27 million overnight stays with at least 10 beds in the country and it ranked among the top 5 in the community by growth in overnight stays, according to Eurostat. Revenues exceeded a total of BGN 8.4 billion. This shows how important tourism is to our economy and we are ready to exchange more good practices that will establish Bulgaria as a destination with high quality of services and hospitality, the Minister emphasized. According to her, this forum will help guide thematic initiatives and events and it is possible that such round tables be held two to three times a year. They can discuss the possibilities for expanding bilateral relations in different types of tourism - especially cultural, historical, balneo and SPA, gourmet, wine, etc., for which the Ministry has created specialized destinations for the territory of the country.

Minister Angelkova paid special attention to the role of investments for the sustainable development of the sector and invited the attendees to join the International Conference on Sustainable Tourism Investment in Sunny Beach, organized by the Ministry at the end of this month. It will attract nearly 300 business representatives. Taleb Rifai, Former Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization, will participate in the forum. Managers from major tour operators and investors, leading hedge funds, financial institutions, marketers, etc. will be present, including executives and experts from worldwide US chains such as Marriott, Orbis, Hayat, etc. The forum will focus on the opportunities of Bulgarian resorts for congress tourism, so that they can use their rich facilities for events throughout the year.

Minister Angelkova and Ambassador Rubin express their conviction to work together for the development of cruise tourism in the Black Sea, which would be an impetus for increasing US tourists.

The bilateral forum continued with presentations from Bulgaria and the US, experts discussed ideas and mechanisms to increase the interest of tourists from both countries. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Bulgarian-American Commission for Educational Exchange, Deputy Mayor of Sofia Dr. Todor Chobanov, mayors of the country, leaderships and representatives of the National Board of Tourism, the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, BUCA (Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association), BUBSPA, the National Association for SPA and wellness tourism, ABTTA, Tourism Association, NBU and others.

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