Nikolina Angelkova: For the first ten months of 2016 we exceeded the results for the entire 2014

28 November 2016

The Minister of Tourism and the Secretary General of the WTO Taleb Rifai announced the opening of the First Congress of World Civilizations and Creative Tourism tomorrow in Sofia.

We are at the end of a very successful year with no analogue in the history of Bulgarian tourism. The number of foreign tourists, who visited Bulgaria in the first ten months of the year, are almost 7.5 million. These figures exceed the figures for the entire 2014, and for the first ten months of 2016, the number of foreign tourists is by over 1 million higher that the number for the same period last year. If we keep this rate by the end of the year, we will overpass the limit of 8 million foreign tourists, which is more than the population of our country. This was said by Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova in a joint meeting with the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization Dr. Taleb Rifai and representatives of the Bulgarian tourist industry.

After the end of the discussion, a joint press conference took place, which was attended by the Jordan princess H.M. Dana Firas, the Minister of Tourism of Kenya Najib Balala, the Minister of Tourism of Malta Edward Lewis, representatives of CNN, diplomats and other officials. Most of them have visited our country for the first time and have expressed their wish to develop active cooperation with Bulgaria in the protection and promotion of the cultural heritage, including through tourist services.    

The participants in the press conference announced the First Congress on World Civilizations and Creative Tourism initiated and organized by the Ministry of Tourism in Sofia jointly with the WTO. The event is listed along with the most significant events in the calendar of the organization for this year.

Nikolina Angelkova emphasized that significant progress has been made towards a sustainable development of the industry in the last two years and many regulatory changes that had been postponed for years, which impeded the normal tourist activity, have been accelerated now. For the first time the government has recognised the tourism as a national priority, has put it at the same level with other fundamental industries and has allowed the creation of a separate ministry, it became clear from the words of the minister. “The presence of Dr. Rifai is honour and recognition for us, it shows the high appreciation of the Organization for the development and the contribution of Bulgarian tourism”, she said and added that more than 500 delegates from 40 countries have arrived for the large-scale event.

“Tourism has been growing steadily in the last decades and has become the third largest industry in the world after the wholesale trading in fuels and chemical products”, announced Taleb Rifai. He emphasized that in 2015, 1.2 billion transborder tourists were registered on the planet, which is a growth of 4.2% and it is the sixth year now that the growth continues by more than 4%.  42% of these tourists have declared that their aim is the cultural tourism. Meanwhile the direct revenue from the global tourism exceeds 1.5 trillion US dollars and if we add the indirect revenue, this indicator will exceed 5 trillion”, the Secretary General added.

“This is why the congress opening tomorrow, which will connect the culture, civilizations and history, is so important. If there is a deficit today, it is a deficit of tolerance and understanding between people, and tourism is a way to improve this communication”, further underlined the head of WTO. He greeted the existing political will at high level in Bulgaria and expressed his hope that tourism will continue its sustainable development and the ministry will continue its existence as an institution. 

“In this congress we have the unique opportunity to demonstrate the merits of our country as an all-year-round destination that has inherited from over 7 epochs more than 40 thousand movable and over 7 million immovable artifacts and monuments, 7 of which are in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites”, the minister said. She pointed out that the cultural and historical tourism is among the highlights in the policy of the ministry since its establishment as a separate institution.

The Jordanian princess H.M. Dana Firas explicitly said that the presence of so many high-ranking officials in the forum is a sign of their readiness to preserve the world cultural heritage and to oppose intolerance. Jordan can learn from the experience and successes of Bulgaria in tourism, she said.

The Minister of Tourism of Kenya Najib Balala acknowledged that his coming to Bulgaria is a dream that had come true. Kenya has a unique heritage from the Kiswahili epoch and findings of fossils dating 3 million years back, but it needs to learn from the experience of other countries as to how these can be transformed into modern tourist products.

According to the Minister of Tourism of Malta Edward Lewis, his country and Bulgaria are similar in a way, since they are not large in territory, but they place the sector among the most important economic sectors. One third of the GDP of Malta depends on tourism and therefore the island fully supports the efforts of Bulgaria to develop the industry as a priority.       


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