Minister Angelkova: Bulgaria with a message for establishing a world destination “Ancient Civilizations”

15 November 2018

The Bulgarian minister opened the congress on historic routes organized by the World Tourism Organization and quoted and increase of 31% in the number of foreign tourists coming to Bulgaria compared to the year 2015

We will make a proposition to the World Tourism Organization to establish a world destination called “Ancient Civilizations”. This initiative would contribute to a better knowledge of the world cultural heritage. I hope that this initiative would be supported by the World Tourism Organization and it will be very important for Bulgaria to initiate it. This is what the Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova said at the opening of the second International congress of world civilizations and historic routes. We will send a message to the regions with ancient culture to join the idea for establishing such a destination which will be open for a lot of participants. Minister Angelkova added that a good beginning of the implementation of this idea will be the inclusion of sites that are on the UNESCO world heritage list.

Some of the official guests of the International congress on ancient civilizations and historic routes were the Deputy Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organizations Jaime Sanclemente, the chairperson of the parliamentary committee on culture and media Vezhdi Rashidov, the chairperson of the economic policy and tourism committee Petar Kanev, the deputy-minister of culture Amelia Gesheva, ministers and managers in the sphere of tourism, representatives of the public and private sector in this industry and its related industries, globally recognized experts in the sphere of culture and protection of cultural heritage. The forum was held on 15th and 16th November 2018 in Sofia as it was the second time Bulgaria had hosted such an event.

The congress is aimed at exploring the way the link between culture and tourism creates opportunities for economic growth and social development, said Minister Angelkova. She added that tourism has proven its potential as one of the major generators of growth for the world economy and has been developing at a greater speed over the last decade. The sector has a share of 10,4% of the global GDP, providing employment to over 313 million people worldwide. In Bulgaria, it constitutes about 13% of the gross domestic product and is one of the leading economic sectors.

We have been working hard to establish our country as a four-season destination with its winter and sea resorts and magnificent beaches popular worldwide, said the minister. According to her, our country is about to be discovered as a place that has a large number of mineral springs, SPA complexes and top-quality golf courses. More than 40 000 historic monuments and sites have been registered on the territory of our country, which makes Bulgaria one of the most attractive destinations for people interested in history and culture, added the minister.

Of course, we have to continue to work hard in order to further develop our potential and this year we have promoted the initiatives for creating a Map of the 100 European tourist sites and a Common Balkan tourist product, said Minister Angelkova. The Ministry of Tourism has developed a new interactive web-based platform and a mobile application called iLoveBulgaria, which provides information about the major Bulgarian tourist sites. A Unified tourist information system is currently being developed.

This measure as well as other similar measures have led to the achievement of record results for Bulgarian tourism, explained the minister. She clarified that in 2017, the total number of tourist visits of foreigners to Bulgaria was 8 882 747, which exceeds the number of the population of the country by 1,8 million.

Based on the latest data for 2018, the number of visits of foreign tourists has risen by 31% compared to 2015, said the minister. She also added that Bulgaria has undoubtedly turned into a competitive and attractive year-round destination.

The historic routes like “The Silk Road”, “Orient Express” and others have inspired numerous travelers and can play a major role for the popularization of the regions, said the Deputy Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organizations Jaime Sanclemente. He also added that we need to put joint efforts and exchange good practices and experience. One of the priorities of the World Tourism Organization is to generate a supplementary added value for all the countries, to guarantee the safety of travels, the digitalization and the innovations in the sector, said Sanclemente. He was certain that this congress will influence the development of tourism on a national and international level.

This forum is very important and we have to be aware of the fact that the face of tourism in our country is its cultural heritage, said Vezhdi Rashidov, the chairperson of the parliamentary committee for culture and media. He also stressed the fact that Bulgaria has established its positions in world culture. He thanked Minister Angelkova for the organization of the forum and the subsequent initiatives for the popularization of the country and its historic heritage.

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