In an interview given to www.investingintourism.com, the Minister of Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria, Hon. Mrs. Nikolina Angelkova outlines her vision to attract investments in the tourism sector and her plans to set the pace in tourism sustainability in both the Republic of Bulgaria and the Southeast European region.
What factors have motivated the Ministry of Tourism of Bulgaria to organise its first ‘Investing In Tourism Sustainability Conference’ on 30 and 31 May 2019?
Following our policy of turning Bulgaria into a year-round tourist destination, we believe that the process of attracting investment in the sector is extremely important. This type of forums usually offer solutions, good practices, projects, and are also a platform for establishing contacts between potential investors. We strive for a largescale event so that it can receive an echo not only in the country but also in the international circles where the proposed projects and ideas will find future realization.
The conference aims at attracting investments in the tourism industry of your country but also in the Southeast European region. How can Bulgaria benefit from increased foreign direct investments in the neighbouring countries?
Bulgaria is not a closed economy but can be seen as part of a region with excellent opportunities in the field of tourism. There is still a great potential for sector development in Southeast Europe. Improving business conditions and increasing tourism turnover in the countries within the region is beneficial to all citizens, as tourism is a path to friendship between countries and, at the same time, one of the most important economic sectors.This is an excellent opportunity for Bulgaria and the Bulgarian tourists to enjoy improved tourist facilities and services in the region.
In what ways do you intend to enhance the complementarities between Bulgaria and other Southeast European countries so as to generate higher value-added synergies?
There are sub-sectors within the industry where, for objective reasons, some Southeast European countries stand out with more advantages over others. For example, our country can offer proven experience in the field of sea and mountain tourism. For us, they are a major source of income, but in order to achieve the goal of developing year-round tourism, we can adopt the good practices that other countries have in the field of spa tourism, cultural and historical tourism, gastronomic tourism, etc. The development of common tourism products between countries is a good example of how we can find the desired synergies in tourism in the region.
Currently, what major initiatives have already been taken to ensure the sustainable growth of the tourism industry in Bulgaria?
The Ministry of Tourism has developed a Map of the Investment Projects of Tourism in Bulgaria, gathering proposals from all the municipalities in the country. We intend to complement this initiative and organize its second edition in the near future. Conducting thematic forums with a focus on medical and health tourism are an excellent opportunity to improve the expertise and the exchange of good practices. A similar forum was organized by the Ministry of Tourism in 2017. Between 2016 and 2018, the ministry participated in economic formats at a regional level, such as the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), where it played the role of coordinator. We participate actively in the OECD Tourism Committee meetings and organize joint working groups between the countries within the region where we discuss common initiatives, projects and opportunities.
What outcomes do you expect from this first edition of the ‘Investing in Tourism Sustainability Conference’?
We approach this event with positive expectation because it will be attended by both high-ranking guests and speakers. Not only do we expect to hear a lot of interesting ideas and suggestions during the discussion panels, but we also hope that participants will be actively involved in the debates. The forum has the potential to become a high-profile networking event with good prospects for development in the future. This is yet another opportunity to promote the destination and present the advantages of the Bulgarian tourism sector.