Minister Mariana Nikolova: We are expanding the dialogue to attract more tourists from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova

05 August 2020

We are expanding contacts with companies working with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, for us they are very important destinations for inbound tourism. This was stated by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism Mariana Nikolova at a working meeting with leading companies that operate in Russian-speaking markets and meet most of the tourist flow from them. Among the participants in the discussion were representatives of "Bon Tour"/"Biblioglobus", "Go to Holiday"/"Annex Tour", "Solvex", "Teddy Kam" and "Tural".

Minister Nikolova noted the huge losses suffered by inbound tourism due to the coronavirus crisis, especially in relation to countries for which there are restrictive measures for travel and other restrictions. The Ministry of Tourism has urgently taken initiatives to support business and through dialogue with tourism managers, diplomats and other experts is doing everything possible to ease the conditions for tourism exchange and encourage business. However, the situation is dynamic and depends reciprocally on the epidemic situation in the countries concerned. The opening of the borders is a key prerequisite for the resumption of tourism activities and is an essential priority for our joint work, she said.

Among the first steps in this direction, the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out the conference conversation with the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Bulgaria Anatoly Makarov, as well as with the Ambassador of Ukraine Vitaly Moskalenko. Bulgaria reacted very quickly and on my initiative the restriction for Ukrainian tourists to present a 72-hour PCR test when entering our country on July 16 was lifted. With regard to Moldova, its citizens have been allowed to enter Bulgaria since July 28, but such a test is needed, she stressed.

The Minister recalled that the European Commission recommends extending the restriction on non-essential travel in the EU and introduces an approach to gradually lift the restrictions from 1 July 2020. Russia and Belarus are third countries, for which, unfortunately, at this stage there are no exceptions to the temporary ban on non-admission in our country.

She promised assistance through the Ministry of Health to assess the possibility of dropping the requirement for a negative PSR test for incoming tourists from Moldova and Belarus. With such a change, it is possible that nearly 80,000 Moldovan citizens will choose Bulgaria for their holidays in August and September. According to the participants in the conversation, Russia has been opening its airlines since August 11, and it is very important that the dialogue between the two countries helps to exchange tourists. The Deputy Prime Minister also confirmed the importance of travelers from the Russian Federation for tourism in Bulgaria in the upcoming winter season and stressed the importance of sanitary measures that are taken to ensure the safety of our destination.

At the same time, efforts are continuing through diplomatic channels to facilitate the issuance of visas, which will stimulate the flow of tourists, it became clear from the words of Minister Nikolova. She drew attention to the government's support for the tourism industry, which is among the most affected in the economy. The measure for financing the tourist charters with 35 euros per seat, the pilot project for a grant scheme of BGN 10 million under OPIC for tour operators and travel agents, the 80:20 scheme and others are of direct benefit to the business. Despite the coronavirus, our work on anti-crisis advertising and marketing activities to the countries with which you partner does not stop, said Minister Nikolova.

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