Deputy Minister Modeva Held a Working Meeting with the Ambassador of Italy H. E. Giuseppina Zarra

16 March 2023

Deputy Minister Mariela Modeva held a working meeting with H.E. Giuseppina Zarra, Ambassador of Italy to the Republic of Bulgaria. The two parties discussed the deepening of bilateral relations in tourism and specific joint initiatives on projects in different formats — such as the World Tourism Organization (WTO), the European Commission (EC) and the OECD. They outlined the main areas in which they will work together — such as the digital transformation of the sector and the training of tourism personnel.

Professor Modeva congratulated Ambassador Zarra and said that ‘Italy is Bulgaria's primary partner in the field of tourism. Italy is also one of the most popular and loved destinations among Bulgarians, with 326,406 Bulgarians having visited it in 2019, according to WTO statistics. According to NSI data, 156,564 Italians visited Bulgaria in 2019 and 115,486 Italian tourists visited us in 2022.’ The Deputy Minister pointed out that according to the data of the border checkpoing, we have seen an increase of 107% in the number of Italian tourists visiting Bulgaria in 2022 compared to 2021.

Professor Modeva noted that Bulgaria has a rich cultural and historical heritage. Our country has been inhabited by ancient civilizations and each of them has left part of its traditions and heritage here, which makes destination Bulgaria even more interesting for tourists. Our country has over 40,000 historical artefacts, which puts it in third place after Italy and Greece.

Successful practices in the tourism sector and policies to address the challenges in the sector were discussed at the meeting, focusing on the good bilateral relations and strengthening the cooperation between the two countries. Deputy Minister Modeva and H.E. Giuseppina Zarra discussed promising niches for bilateral cooperation in tourism in the fields of spa and wellness, cultural tourism and eco-tourism (rural, mountain and other). In the conversation it became clear that there is a great prospect for joint work on the digital transformation of the sector and the training of personnel in tourism. Bulgaria and Italy will exchange information related to projects administered by the EU and regional development programmes that support the sector and the tourism industry. Deputy Minister Modeva said that the Ministry of Tourism, on the initiative of Minister Ilin Dimitrov, is working on the development of a digital map of destination Bulgaria, the aim of which is to allow tourists to log in from their phones and get acquainted with the combined Bulgarian tourism product in a convenient and easy way — such as attractions, routes, festivals, etc.

Ambassador Zarra said that Italian tourists have a great interest in the complete cycle of rural tourism, in cycling routes, such as those along the Danube, for example, in the cultural and historical sights and the beautiful nature of the Bulgarian mountains. According to her, more and more young families with small children choose Bulgaria for holidays and vacations.

According to the data, the leading destinations for Italian tourists in Bulgaria in 2022 are Sofia — with just over 40 thousand visits, followed by Plovdiv, Varna and Nessebar. Italian tourists are very interested in visiting Bulgarian cultural sites. Our natural attractions such as the mountains of Vitosha, Rila, Pirin, Rhodope and others are also popular for them.

During the meeting, Deputy Minister Modeva extended an informal invitation to the Italian Minister of Tourism Daniela Santanche to visit Bulgaria during the 68th session of the Regional Commission Europe of the WTO, which our country will host in the period 31 May — 2 June 2023.

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