Looking to 2022: The Ministry of Tourism Works Very Actively to Promote Bulgaria as a Destination on International Markets

23 February 2023

In the past year, the Ministry of Tourism has been working very actively to promote our country as a destination on the international market. Our efforts were aimed at offsetting the negative effects of the current geopolitical and economic challenges.

There was a positive trend of active recovery of the sector, with the level of foreign arrivals and revenues approaching the parameters of the pre-crisis 2019. Romania, Turkey and Greece were the top countries in terms of inbound tourism. The interest of tourists from some Central European countries, which are traditional for our country, was extremely high.

A particularly significant example in this respect is Poland, which has firmly established itself as one of our top 5 generating destinations. Awareness of Bulgaria on the Polish market was supported by the promotional event organized at the end of October 2022 in four Polish cities — Wroclaw, Katowice, Krakow and Warsaw, in order to establish and expand existing contacts between the representatives of the public administration and the business. At the same time, 2 working visits of senior tourism officials to Bulgaria and Poland were held during the year on an exchange basis, which provided an opportunity to discuss a number of joint initiatives and projects.

Our activity on the Polish market also found deserved recognition in the award of Mr. Nikolay Kostov, Attaché for Tourism in the city of Warsaw, who was in the top 100 most influential persons in tourism in Poland for 2022. The year also brought us more good news — Bulgaria has confidently started to regain its position in the UK, with British tourists now generating a significant part of the revenue in our winter resorts. An important prerequisite for this was our fruitful participation in one of the largest tourism exhibitions in the world in early November 2022 — WTM London, during which Minister Ilin Dimitrov held more than 20 meetings with representatives of state authorities of priority tourism partners, as well as with representatives of tourism companies, tour operators, airlines.

Our country's partnership with established international tourism formats has also led to very good results. The most important recognition was undoubtedly the election of our country as the host of the 68th session of the Regional Commission for Europe of the UNWTO, which will take place in the period 31 May—2 June 2023 in Sofia. This is a great opportunity for Bulgaria to present its rich opportunities in tourism to the highest possible audience. Our country has already demonstrated its ambition to play a leading role in global policy-making in the sector with its candidacy for membership of the NWTO Executive Board for the period 2023—2027. In September of this year, the country will also host the 107th meeting of the Board of Directors of the European Tourism Commission, a forum that is an excellent platform for the discussion of marketing and other important initiatives in tourism.

2023 has also begun to be extremely active internationally. Minister Dimitrov conducted a working visit in the period 8—15 January 2023 to markets with great potential to generate added value for the sector — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. These countries can be both a significant generator of tourist arrivals and provide opportunities for meaningful exchange and training of staff and development of best practice in the sector.

Bulgaria turned out to be the first destination that the Minister of Tourism of the State of Israel Haim Katz visited after his inauguration. During his working visit, the ministers in charge of tourism of Bulgaria and Israel signed an agreement on cooperation in tourism. The two sides also had the opportunity to talk with business representatives, and Bulgaria is going to promote itself even more actively in Israel. Minister Katz was impressed by the excellent conditions for tourism provided by one of our most renowned resorts, namely Bansko. The landmark visit was made in the light of another important anniversary — 80 years since the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews, a fact that was noted by the guest with gratitude and special attention.

And one more highlight — one of our main goals for the year 2023 is to restore the interest of German tourists, which has been strongly influenced in a negative way by the military actions in Ukraine. An important step in this direction is the organisation of a roadshow-type promotional event in some of the largest German cities — Berlin, Leipzig, Munich, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf. The series of hundreds of business meetings held was extremely well attended and is sure to bring added value and mutual benefit to businesses here and beyond.

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