Minister Angelkova in Varna: the Black Sea countries are creating a common tourism brand

14 June 2018

The market in the region has 333 mil. users and a total GDP of USD 2.8 trillion

We will work jointly to create a common Black Sea tourism brand of the intra-cruise tourism in the Black Sea. Thus said the Minister of Tourism, Nikolina Angelkova, in Varna where a meeting was held of the ministers responsible for tourism in the member-states of the Organization for Black Sea Economic Cooperation (OBSEC). The event is in the highest, A class, which is included in the agenda of Bulgaria’s presidency of the EU Council.

One of the initiatives on which we will be working is the creation of a common product bringing together wine, gourmet, cultural, spa & medical spa tourism, indicated Minister Angelkova. She announced that one result of the meeting is the signing of a Joint Varna Declaration of the Ministers Responsible for Tourism in the Member-States of the Organization for Black Sea Economic Cooperation (OBSEC), clarifying that the document provides the framework for joint activities going forward. Therein the OBSEC countries declare their intentions to work towards growth of tourist flows between the destinations and towards turning sustainable tourism into one of the major drivers of social-economic development in the region.


The forum was attended by Michael Hristides, Secretary-General of OBSEC, Bratislav Djordjevic, executive manager of OBSEC, and Assaf Hadjiev, Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, as well as representatives of OBSEC member-states.

Guided by the understanding that the Black Sea countries must make full use of their common potential, the Bulgarian presidency is attempting to increase the region’s visibility, the Minister commented further, indicating that tourism is undoubtedly one of the key sectors for a region with a populace of over 333 mil. users and a total GDP of USD 2.8 trillion, which accounts for 14% of the entire European economy, as well as 4% of the global one. The area of the OBSEC countries is 423 000 sq. km. In recent years the region has asserted itself as a leading tourism destination visited by 115 mil. people in 2016. This equates to 19 % of all tourism visits in Europe, noted Minister Angelkova.

During the meeting she also reported on the presidency of the Organization’s Tourism Cooperation task group. Bulgaria took up coordination of its activities in July 2016, with its term in office expiring this July. In the course of those two years the Ministry of Tourism held, jointly with the Permanent Secretariat of OBSEC, three meetings of the task group, indicated Minister Angelkova. We put the focus on the tools to achieve competitiveness of the tourism sector in the region via a common approach to its development, introduction of innovations, and consolidation of the image of Black Sea as a tourism brand for visitors from both the nearby European market and from remote destinations, such as China, South Korea, Japan, USA, etc.

During Bulgaria’s term, OBSEC and the World Tourism Organization (WTO) also joined efforts in WTO’s Along the Silk Route program.

The way to develop tourism in the region is to make use of our shared cultural and natural resources by relying on the development of common tourism products, initiatives, and specific projects involving businesses from the OBSEC member-states, commented the Minister, citing as an example the initiative to set up the so-called Balkan Tourism Route, which aims to promote the region’s cultural-historical heritage to remote markets. This initiative is also linked to another priority of Bulgaria’s presidency of the EU Council, namely the Balkans, with 11 countries taking part in its inception this May, noted the Bulgarian, adding that there was complete consensus among participants that improving regional connectivity, exchanging information and best practices, and implementing joint marketing campaigns are indispensable prerequisites to the successful creation of the common Balkans brand.

Responding to post-meeting media questions, Minister Angelkova explained that the Ministry of Tourism’s proposal is to set forth the status of national resorts and key operations therein in an ordinance to the Tourism Act. We have proposed that the mayors and the local industries determine which is best for their development. We want to take the path of decentralization, while local governments are best aware of the specifics of national resorts in their territory.  

Thus, various types of tourism will continue to be developed in Bulgaria the way the industry wants them to, noted Minister Angelkova, adding that it was the only way to achieve the desired balance. We have received strong support from the global tour operators, from tourism organizations, and from mayors, noted the Minister. I was notified by over 30 tourism organizations that the subject matter needs broad public discussion. National resorts are an image for our country, the voice of the ministry and of tourists has to be heard, and we have expressed their opinion. The decision will be made by the MP’s, summarized Minister Angelkova.

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