Министрите Николина Ангелкова и Ивелина Василева представиха на туристическия бранш програмата за подпомагане на общините за минералните извори Ministers Nikolina Angelkova and Ivelina Vasileva present to the tourism industry the program for support to m

05 November 2016

34 specialized centres offering spa and balneo procedures are in the process of being certified under the new ordinance regulating their business. This was announced by the Minister of Tourism, Nikolina Angelkova, during a joint meeting, with the Minister of the Environment and Waters, Ivelina Vassileva and tourism business for the presentation of the National Program for Support to the Municipalities for the Effective Management of Mineral Water Sources in their territory.

„Introduction of rules and procedures for the operation of the spa sector and the promotion of its development is a major priority for us, as it offers a tangible opportunity to extend the season and attract more solvent tourists“, Nikolina Angelkova said. A crucial step in this direction was the adoption of an Ordinance to the Tourism Act on the terms and procedure for certification of balneo (Medical Spa) centres, Spa centres, wellness centres, and thalassic therapy centres. It is the first such secondary legislation, which introduces minimum mandatory legislative requirements to be met by such specialized centres. "The certification process for balneo and spa centres in the country under the new rules is underway and we have already received 111 applications from specialized facilities wishing to undergo the procedure ", Nikolina Angelkova added. Certification is voluntary but only physically audited facilities will be entitled to carry the SPA abbreviation and be registered in the National Tourism Register.

„Bulgaria has unique natural predispositions to develop spa tourism but we are yet to maximize the use of this resource in the tourism sector“, the Minister of Tourism indicated. Presently, the spa sector ranks 5th in Bulgaria as motivation for tourists to travel, having a share of some 11% in the overall tourism offer. „We have 1 600 mineral springs, which ranks us 2nd in Europe, with over 60 climatological and 40 balneo centres“, Minister Angelkova added and emphasized that the MEW initiative and the national program’s launch are crucial for the development of this potential. „It is an actual step towards extending the season, which may yield tangible results within a very short run“, Nikolina Angelkova stressed.

Minister Vassileva explained that MEW has already opened the program as a pilot scheme with a budget of over BGN 3,5 mil. The source of funding are the early greenhouse emission auctions. The program will be administered by the National Trust Eco-Fund, which will accept from 1 November to 16 December of this year the project proposals of local authorities and will then make a preview of those. The program is a financial instrument in nature and will be implemented in 2017. The funds will be used to support on grant basis up to 50% of the projects of Municipalities, which would need to use own or borrowed funds for the remainder of the cost. The scheme was elaborated following an analysis conducted among 111 Municipalities, which provided information on the status of their infrastructure facilities and the needs for their improvement.

„Results suggest that the physical network is badly worn out. There are 102 mineral water sources in our country, which are exclusive government property. Since 2011 an opportunity has been provided, via amendments to the Waters Act, to make these available free of charge to Municipalities for 25-year periods. Thus far, 42 Municipalities have made use of this, they now manage 63 sources, along with 37 sources, which are municipal property. Data indicates that thus far less than 20% of the resource are utilized, the potential being 3800 litres per second“, Minister Vassileva added, welcoming the idea of government institutions, local governments, and businesses joining forces to overcome the disproportion.

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