Minister Angelkova held a working meeting with the members of the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce

26 October 2018

Germany is the third inbound market for our country, in the coming years we can meet more than 1 million German tourists per year

Germany is a key partner of Bulgarian tourism and the Ministry of Tourism actively promotes measures to attract more visitors from the Federal Republic. Germany is third in the top 10 of our targeted inbound markets this year with more than 640 thousand visits for the period January-August. This was announced by the Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova at a working meeting with members and partners of the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The Minister presented the results of the 2018 summer season, the Ministry’s legislative policy and the most important goals for the sector.

The host of the working meeting was the Chief Executive of the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Dr. Mitko Vasilev, and Thorsten Geissler, Head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for Bulgaria, Hubertus Klink, Head of the Economic Department of the German Embassy in Bulgaria, as well as representatives of leading German companies working in Bulgaria took part in the talks.

For the past three years, an upward trend has been formed in tourism with significant growth in number of tourists and revenues, Minister Angelkova said. A major contribution to this has been the fact that the government has put the sector as a priority and since the end of 2014, an independent Ministry has been set up. We expect to reach 9.5 million visitors from the inbound markets this year, while international tourism revenues for the period January-August 2018 alone amount to over 2.8 billion euros, which is over 7% growth compared to the same period of 2017, Minister Angelkova pointed out. She highlighted the good interaction between the Ministry and the big tour operators working in the German market.

In 2018, an integrated campaign for target markets, including the Federal Republic of Germany, is held again and includes print, online and digital advertising, as well as social networks. Minister Angelkova stressed that Germany is a sustainable market with great growth potential. Quality analyzes among tourists show that 83% of German guests who visited our country in 2016 returned in both 2017 and 2018. Within 3 to 5 years, we can reach 1-1.5 million German tourists per year, Minister Angelkova predicted.

She introduced the members of the Chamber to the efforts to improve the conditions for doing business in tourism through legislative initiatives. Amendments to the Tourism Act provide for advisory councils on tourism, in which the industry and civil society will participate in local tourism policies. Among the most important changes in the law is the clarification of the status of national resorts. This will regulate the activities related to advertising, staff training, green areas maintenance, product area establishment, as well as noise regulations in national resorts. Where there is a balance, resorts develop better, Minister Angelkova said categorically.

Each place for accommodation, dining and entertainment will receive an ID code reflected in the National Tourism Register. We connect the registers of the NRA, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Finance through the Unified Tourism Information System and all this will increase the quality of the service. As early as November, the Ministry of Tourism will present a facial identification feature so that business documents can be processed not only by an electronic signature, but also by facial recognition, and this could be done by a smartphone, her words indicated. Businesses will thus be facilitated, and administrative service provision will be done in much shorter time.

Regarding the amendments to the  Black Sea Coast Act, the Ministry is making serious efforts to provide managers for all beaches. This year, revenues from concessions and rents are expected to be BGN 19 million,unguarded strips have decreased by about 35% within 3 years. In the conditions of serious competition in the region, Bulgaria is obliged to provide a better-quality product, so we are uncompromising with regard to violations, Minister Angelkova said. Sanctions up to BGN 50,000 are introduced for rogue traders who work illegally on movable sites on unguarded beaches. There are also sanctions for sites and sunbathers located on dunes, which is in violation of the law because they are protected areas, she added.

Bulgaria is a wonderful place to relax, but also to do business, Minister Angelkova was categorical. Two years ago, the Ministry created an investment map in which municipalities outline potential projects for implementation. Our country attracts investors with government incentives through laws, social security and tax relief, and offers low production costs, Minister Angelkova stated.

Our efforts for a better staff policy are serious, Minister Angelkova noted. We signed a contract with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and work together with the Bulgarian-German Vocational Training Centre. Through this project, people registered with the Employment Agency will receive the required or higher qualifications, the Minister said, and turned to the German businesses for feedback.

Mr. Mitko Vasilev, Chief Executive of the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, welcomed the good partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and recalled the successful presentation of Bulgaria at the world’s largest international tourism fair ITB Berlin, as well as at other major specialized markets. A delegation from the federal province of Schleswig-Holstein visited Bulgaria this summer and is ready to provide practical assistance in the training of cadres in tourism. Of the 5 German professional centers in Bulgaria, two - in Tsarevo and Smolyan - work in the field of tourism, and we can provide them with additional support, he promised.

On the occasion of a proposal by the Bulgarian Union of Balneology and SPA Tourism (BUBSPA), Dr. Vasilev explained that a health commission is functioning at the Chamber, and through the Bulgarian Ministries of Tourism and Health, it can assist in signing contracts with German health funds in order to give a chance to more German citizens to use the relevant medical and spa services in Bulgaria. He and Minister Angelkova united around the idea that a meeting with the Minister of Health Kiril Ananiev should be initiated next month to discuss these opportunities.

BUBSPA will be presented again at the Berlin Exhibition as a thermal and spa destination offering a four-season product. This will extend the summer season in May, September and October, which the industry welcomes. To extend the season, entrepreneurs have also highlighted the excellent opportunities to promote golf tourism in Bulgaria. We work very well with the association, we also participate in the specialized golf exhibitions, Minister Angelkova commented in response and assured that golf visits were discussed in the optimization of flight programs.

The businesses expressed hopes that additional lifts will be built in ski resorts. Minister Angelkova clarified that the Ministry supports the construction of new facilities to make the mountains more accessible, but this needs to be in line with the laws and regulations of the park management plans. She also focused on the accessibility of beaches for people with disabilities. Between us and the business, there is great communication. Annexes have been signed to beach management contracts regulating the movement of such visitors. I hope that next summer, this service will be greatly improved and expanded, Minister Angelkova said.

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