The Minister of tourism Nikolina Angelkova met with the Bulgarian patriarch Neophyte

13 February 2015

The Holy Synod will have its representative in the National Council of Tourism.  A partnership agreement between the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Ministry of Tourism will be prepared and signed at the shortest possible time. This was negotiated at a meeting between the Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova and His Holiness Neophyte. Other participants in the meeting were the Lovchanksi Metropolitan Gavriil, the Varna and the Veliko Turnovo metropolitan Joan, the Nevrokopski metropolitan Seraphim, the Secretary General of the Holy Synod archimandrite Gerasim and the head of the Public Relations department of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Alexandra Karamihaleva. At this stage the representative of the Holy Synod in the National Council of Tourism will not have the right to vote but can take part and intervene during the meetings. Other interested parties can also take part in the activities of the Council according to its regulations.

The two parties discussed possibilities for promoting the holy places – churches and monasteries, miraculous icons, holy relics and their inclusion in the tourist packages. The mapping out of routes for orthodox worshippers who will be able to attend the yearly and daily sermons was also a topic for discussion.  According to the Holy Synod religious tourism is not sufficiently developed. “We are relying on your assistance to identify the important orthodox monuments and to develop cultural and historical tourism that includes religious tourism as well”, said Angelkova.

According to the representatives of the Holy Synod Russian tourists make for the biggest share of religious tourists. This prompted a discussion about the drop in the number of tourists from the Russian Federation and the measures that the Ministry of Tourism intends to undertake in order to counteract this trend. Minister Angelkova said that together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the visa-issuing procedures for Russian citizens will be facilitated and she promised to push for a fast-track procedure for religious tourists as well.

The two sides agreed that a mechanism should be identified to secure that revenues from the fees for the tourist sites are invested in the maintenance and socialization of these same sites so that better tourist conditions are created and information materials are made available. Efforts will be made to establish orthodox churches as tourist sites without disturbing the church’s regular practices and to offer tourists adequate information related to the orthodox traditions. „At the moment everyone can be appointed tourist guide as there are no concrete requirements. That’s why we’re working towards creating the needed regulation for this activity and I rely on your help for the establishment of sightseeing rules for the cultural and religious monuments”, said Minister Angelkova.

It was agreed that the Holy Synod will present a list with the significant orthodox monuments and artifacts that will be the focus of future promotional films and materials. 


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