The 68th Working Session of the Regional Commission "Europe" of the GTC started

01 June 2023

Record number of ministers and votes during the meeting in Sofia
The Minister of State Dr. Ilin Dimitrov and the Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization Zurab Pololikashvili gave the official start of the 68th Session of the Regional Commission ‘Europe’ of the World Tourism Organization. It is being held in Sofia and the working session is attended by a number of ministers, deputy ministers and heads of the tourism sector in their countries, along with other representatives from the delegations of 40 countries. 
Until 2 June, Bulgaria is hosting the key international event in tourism, during which Bulgaria will be the focus of top-level discussions focused on the future of European tourism.

‘We are going to have an intensive programme in which we will discuss the policies, measures and solutions for the development of tourism, which is one of the most important industries on our continent. Undoubtedly, this is the sphere where Europe has a leading role’, Minister Dimitrov said at the opening and declared our country's ambition to continue playing a key role and making a significant contribution to the formation of the main messages and policies in tourism at European level. For his part, Secretary General Pololikashvili stressed in his meetings so far that Europe is the continent with the greatest importance and weight in world tourism.

He congratulated the Ministry of Tourism on the excellent work on the organization of the forum. The presence and support of the institutions in Bulgaria shows that tourism is very important for the country, there are many projects that are being worked on and I am convinced that this visit and the presence of the commission here will be a big step forward for Bulgaria and an opportunity to support tourism here, Zurab Pololikashvili said.

Recent years have brought many challenges and issues to be addressed in tourism, and the sustainability of the industry has suffered immensely from the pandemic, the military conflict in Ukraine, and the subsequent economic effects — disrupted supply chains, inflationary processes and the outflow of labour into the sector. However, Minister Dimitrov expressed optimism and highlighted the fact that according to various criteria, in the latest WTO rankings Bulgaria has shown enviable and somewhat unexpected results against the backdrop of the global crisis, entering the top 10 of the best recovering countries after the pandemic worldwide.

Dr. Ilin Dimitrov emphasized on the work on strengthening the workforce and the human potential that will lead to the improvement of the quality of the tourism service and the setting of the right messages during the discussions and the meeting with the European partners. Here are some of them: to nurture the vitality and resilience of tourism against the enormous European and global challenges; to work actively for the modern face of tourism on a European scale; to practise environmentally friendly tourism and to care for the sustainable development of the sector; to make tourism a fruitful field for integrated industries, initiatives and projects, with care for the European economy. Another aspiration is for tourism to be a vehicle for the successful implementation of policies to protect cultural, natural and economic resources.

In the framework of the World Tourism Organization and in the process of preparation of the event Bulgaria was identified as a responsible and predictable partner, which actively works for the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals with a horizon of 2030.


Secretary General Pololikashvili noted that our country has untapped potential, which can be developed through even more active interaction with the WTO and European partners.
Our country's hosting of the 68th session of the Regional Commission ‘Europe’ is a serious international recognition for us, as it will give the Bulgarian tourism product the opportunity to be presented to an extremely wide and professionally oriented audience — ministers, government officials, representatives of the business, academia and others.

At the same time, Alessandra Priante, Director of the Europe Department of the WTO, described the meeting in Sofia as a WTO forum of historic importance because of the record number of participants and the important decisions that are being voted.

So far, a total of two congresses have been held in the capital city under the auspices of the WTO, in 2016 and 2018, dedicated to World Heritage and Ancient Routes.


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