Minister Angelkova met Dr. Hamad al-Bazai, Deputy Minister of Finance of Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh

10 October 2018

The Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova had a talk with Saudi Arabian Deputy Minister of Finance Dr. Hamad Al-Bazai as part of her working visit to Riyadh. She is in the capital of 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.

During the meeting with Dr. Bazai, possibilities of expanding co-operation to attract more tourists and investments of bilateral interest were discussed. Very appropriate business climate has been established in Bulgaria to promote this process, Minister Angelkova said. She stressed that our country has the lowest cost of doing business within the European Union. Corporate tax of 10% is the smallest in the community, which competes with the indicators in a number of countries in the region and Central Europe - 15% in Serbia, 16% in Romania, 19% in Poland.

Minister Angelkova stated that tourism accounts for about 12 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and is a strategic sector. As a result of our intensive work with businesses, we have achieved record results for the last years since the establishment of the independent Ministry of Tourism. For the first eight months of 2018, around 7 million foreign tourists have chosen to visit Bulgaria, a growth of nearly 6 per cent over the same period last year. More than 2 billion euros are the revenues from international tourism from January to July inclusive - over 8% more than in the same months of 2017, she added.

The Minister pointed out that last year, Prime Minister Borisov visited Saudi Arabia with a large delegation. I am sure we can cooperate on many topics. Tourism is a horizontal policy and depends on all sectors. Thanks to the efforts of the government, our country has established itself as an attractive tourist destination. The Bulgarian economy is on the rise and ranks second in the lowest debt in Europe. Large investors such as Hyatt and Marriott are interested in building sites for high-class tourists in Bulgaria, Minister Angelkova said, and explained that the tourist administration is actively cooperating with leading Bulgarian universities and many professional high schools in tourism.

She also stressed that partnership with Bulgaria could provide access to key markets not only in the EU but also in strategic regions such as Russia, Turkey, the Middle East, etc. The Southeastern Europe market covers over 150 million consumers and the EU’s total market - over 500 million. Bulgaria offers investors government incentives, security of residence, tax breaks and good workforce, which makes it competitive not only for tourism but also as an outsourcing destination, Minister Angelkova said.

Bilateral relations in the economy and finance have serious prospects, Deputy Minister Dr. Hamad Al-Bazai commented, and stressed that tourism is a structurally relevant and very important sector for each country and Bulgaria is doing very well in this sphere. It is a preferred destination for many foreign tourists. The financier congratulated Minister Angelkova on the good work and the achieved growth in tourism. In his opinion, joint partnership between the two countries will achieve very good results and this will help to conclude more memoranda of cooperation in different sectors, which would also trigger new investments.

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