Minister Ilin Dimitrov in Tirana: We Rely on Education and Specialised Forms of Tourism for Its Sustainable Development

04 April 2023

The Minister of Tourism Dr. Ilin Dimitrov took part in the main discussion of the international forum for the region of Southeast Europe, held under the auspices of the UN World Tourism Organization, FESTA — The Future Environmental and Sustainable Tourism in Albania.

The conversation entitled ‘The Role of Governments in Determining Future Tourism Policies", moderated by the Director for Europe of the World Tourism Organisation Alessandra Priante, was a major highlight of the forum's dynamic programme.

‘It is clear that the world will return to pre-COVID-19 levels of tourism, but what will we do differently?’ With these opening remarks the Bulgarian minister started his speech at the panel on sustainable tourism under the auspices of the UNWTO in Tirana.

The Minister stressed that the education of personnel in preparing successful and motivated future professionals in the various segments of tourism is key in building its sustainable future.

‘Skills, staff training and quality of service — this is important, this is the key to develop modern and sustainable tourism,’ Minister Dimitrov told the participants in the forum.

Minister Dimitrov stressed the need for the Balkan countries, with the support of the WTO, to work on strengthening the skills of the personnel in the sector. He also advocated the development of joint packages and promotional activities at supranational regional level.

We should make the best use of the opportunities given by the European funds for education and exchange, programmes like Erasmus Plus, he declared. Bulgaria will support its partners from the EU and the Balkans with its accumulated expertise, at the same time we are working on the idea of establishing a UNWTO academy in Bulgaria, Minister Dimitrov told his colleagues.

Staff skills will be the focus of a thematic seminar during the 68th Regional Commission ‘Europe’, he announced together with WTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili and WTO Europe Director Alessandra Priante.

In Bulgaria, we also rely heavily on specialized forms of tourism — such as wine routes and culinary tourism, wellness, health and SPA, cultural, eco, rural and adventure. These are all forms that can be practised at local level, taking into account the richness and specificities of the different parts of destination Bulgaria, the Bulgarian minister pointed out and stressed that this is an essential prerequisite and condition for the future development of sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism. He placed special emphasis on the development of Bulgaria as a leading SPA destination. The mineral springs, which place our country second in Europe in this natural resource, are a real treasure that we are developing, because this can guarantee the construction of year-round tourism.

The sector has always been a priority for Bulgaria, Minister Dimitrov stressed. Tourism contributes significantly to the country's GDP and provides an alternative for development, especially for smaller regions. It is important that all participants in the formation of the vision and policy in tourism at the national level join efforts to tackle the current problems and challenges, called in his speech Dr. Dimitrov.

In his words, tourism undoubtedly has a huge economic, social and cultural importance for the development of Bulgarian society. The state should encourage foreign direct investment, which leads to the improvement of the tourist base, the tourist infrastructure and the Bulgarian tourist product. We need to adapt to modern realities, to use the achievements of technology to generate additional added value in the sector. We will be happy to see the number of our guests from abroad grow, but it is more important to offer a meaningful and enriching experience, Minister Dimitrov said.

The panel discussion was also attended by Mirela Kumbaro, Minister of Tourism and Environment of Albania, Goran Djurovic, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism of Montenegro, Federico Pedini Amati, Minister of Tourism, Post, Cooperation and Congress of the Republic of San Marino, Husein Memic, Minister of Youth and Tourism of Serbia, Stasa Kosarac, minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kreshnik Bekteshi, Minister of Economy of the Republic of North Macedonia, Rosetta Haidari, Minister of Industry, Entrepreneurship and Trade of Kosovo, Tonci Glavina, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Croatia, as well as the relevant Deputy Ministers of Greece, Turkey and Lithuania.

The opening ceremony of the FESTA Forum in Tirana took place last night, and among the dignitaries who addressed the heads of state in the field of tourism were the Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama, Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the WTO and Mirela Kumbaro, Minister of Tourism and Environment of Albania.

Late last night, Minister Dimitrov held a working meeting with the Secretary of State for Tourism of Croatia Tonci Glavina, in which they discussed opportunities for future deepening of cooperation between the two countries, as well as the exchange of useful practices. Among them — the exchange of experience for training purposes, the structure of the unified branch organisation of Croatia on the Austrian model, the dynamics of tourism indicators between the two countries, as well as details of the marketing strategies of Croatia and Bulgaria. They also commented on successful practices under the Recovery and Resilience Plan.

The two countries are extremely close in terms of language and culture and this is a bridge to creating even closer ties in the field of tourism, Minister Dimitrov and Tonci Glavina pointed out.

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