Bulgaria, Spain to sign a Memorandum of Cooperation in Tourism

23 January 2016
Министърът на туризма на България Николина Анелкова заедно с министъра на индустрията, енергетиката и туризма на Кралство Испания Хосе Мануел Сория Лопес (в дясно) и посланика на Република България в Испания Костадин Коджабашев (в ляво).

Bulgaria and Spain will sign a Memorandum of Cooperation in Tourism during the ITB International Tourism Fair in Berlin in March this year. This was agreed in Madrid by the Bulgarian Minister of Tourism, Nikolina Angelkova and the Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Spain, Jose Manuel Soria Lopez. The two discussed opportunities for deepening of cooperation and exchange of experience in the sector during the International Tourism Fair FITUR in Madrid.

In Spain, training of people working in tourism is covered well by the higher education with a specialized organization, "Sahetur", being in charge of these activities. The two ministers agreed that Sahetur’s representatives visit Bulgaria and assist our country in the development of specialized training programs. “Services in the sector form 90% of tourist product quality, hence the importance of having a healthy relationship between education and business,” said Minister Nikolina Angelkova. With her colleague they expressed shared opinion that while future of marketing lies in digitization, celebrities also exert strong influence on advertising. The active role Antonio Banderas played in the promotion of our country was discussed as an example in this regard.

Opportunities to attract more tourists from Spain and work more actively with tour operators were among the topics discussed at the meeting of Minister Angelkova with Rafael Gallego, President of the Conference of Tour Operators in Spain. This is the largest stakeholder organization in the country, involving over 2,500 agencies, realizing more than 6 million sales per annum. At the meeting it was agreed that representatives of the Spanish organization take part in promotional tours around Bulgaria organized by the Ministry of Tourism for foreign experts and media. In the course of the meeting it emerged that Spanish tourists visiting Bulgaria are interested mainly in cultural and historical landmarks, cognitive tours around the country, balneo and spa treatment, etc.

Bulgaria is visible in the French tourist market and various news about tourism opportunities in the country are often publicized. This was noted by Michel Durio, Head of Tourism Department and Policy Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, during his meeting in Madrid with Minister Angelkova. He also stressed he was familiar with the strategy of Bulgaria to put the stakes on the personal attitude and perception in advertising the country as a tourist destination and expressed readiness to assist in attracting celebrity French actors to promote Bulgaria in France. The two countries have already begun preparation to coordinate efforts in the Chinese market. For France, attracting tourists from Asia is subject to long-term strategy with some 5 million Chinese tourists expected to be received every year up until 2020. “For us it is important to learn from your experience and if possible to use your developed network of outsourced visa centers in China. Bulgaria has much to offer for the development of a joint tourist product with France that will have a positive effect on both countries”, said Minister Angelkova. She stressed that Bulgaria has a very good starting position in this respect and that we have recently signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with China.

Within the framework of FITUR Minister Angelkova held talks with the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey Mahir Unal. “I am glad we were able to ease the visa issuing procedures for Turkish citizens. This gave a very good result last year as we registered a 30% growth in the number of Turkish tourists who have visited our winter resorts and over 20% growth for the entire 2015”, said Minister Nikolina Angelkova. She informed her Turkish counterpart that the same measures will apply this year and that an ever growing number of Turkish citizens are visiting Bulgarian winter resorts. The two ministers agreed to speed up work on the development of a joint tourist product aimed for distant markets and to organize on reciprocal basis “Days of Bulgaria” in Istanbul and “Days of Turkey” in Sofia. Minister Angelkova invited her Turkish colleague to take part in the First World Congress of Modern Tourism and Ancient Civilizations, which will be held in Sofia at the end of this year.

The impact of security on tourism was discussed at a meeting of Minister Angelkova with the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Egypt, Hisham Zazu. The latter renewed the invitation to his Bulgarian counterpart to pay a visit to Egypt and sign a Cooperation Agreement between the two countries in the field of tourism. It emerged in the course of the meeting that while Egyptian visitors are interested mainly in shopping tourism, Bulgaria could be also competitive with the opportunities it offers for spa and wellness tourism.

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