Николина Ангелкова Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova at FITUR
Source and photo: Ministry of Tourism of Bulgaria

The start of the year 2017 as “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development” was announced

Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova took part in the ceremony on the announcement of the year 2017 as “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development” under the aegis of the UN World Tourism Organization. The event was hosted by the king of Spain Felipe VI in the El Prado Palace.

During the reception, King Felipe VI and Minister Angelkova spoke on the challenges facing global tourism and the importance of the UN initiative for 2017. The Bulgarian minister emphasized that 2016 is a record year for the Bulgarian tourism as we have received over 8 million foreign tourists – more than the country population. She emphasized that Spain is among the best examples for the sustainable development of the tourism sector and the exchange of good practices and mutual initiatives between both countries is of great importance for Bulgaria. “A strong sign of the importance of the tourism sector for Spain is the commitment of the royal family with the sector and its problems”, added Nikolina Angelkova. In her words, the relationships between Bulgaria and Spain are good, which should be used for the deepening of the partnership, especially in the tourism sector.

The General Assembly of the UN announced the year 2017 “Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development”. The focus of the year is the change of policies, business practices and consumer habits, which can lead to more sustainable tourism. The promotion of the role of tourism in 2017 will be in 6 major fields: 1. Inclusive and sustainable economic growth; 2. Social inclusion, employment and reduction of poverty; 3. Efficient use of resources and protection of the environment and fight against climate change; 4. Cultural values, diversity and cultural heritage; 5. Mutual understanding, peace and security. The World Tourism Organization (WTO) is authorized to facilitate the organization and conduct of the International year in collaboration with governments, the relevant organizations of the UN system, international and regional organizations and other interested parties.

Bulgaria is among the most active participants in the WTO and last year it was awarded with the right to organize the largest event for 2016 of the organization – the Congress of the World Civilizations and Modern Tourism. The forum took place in the period 29 – 30 November in Sofia and over 40 state delegations participated in it together with 20 ministers, deputy ministers and heads of tourism from around the world. The purpose of the Ministry of Tourism is to build on these results by actively participating in the initiatives of celebration of the 2017 as the year of sustainable tourism for development, including by hosting forums, expert meetings, workshops etc. Bulgaria is planning to conduct the Annual Tourism Awards for 2017 under the auspices of sustainable tourism for development and a special award will be presented for this subject. Steps should be undertaken for the creation of a Committee of Sector Representatives and Ministry Experts, who will communicate directly with the WTO for the implementation of joint initiatives and promotion of the objectives of the year.

Minister Angelkova is on a visit in Spain for participation in the opening of the 37th International Tourist Exhibition FITUR in Madrid – one of the largest worldwide. The official event for the launching of the exchange was this morning as it was attended by the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska, more than 60 ministers and deputy ministers from around the world.

Bulgaria will be presented in the Madrid exchange with an information stand of 80 sq.m. in the Europe Zone (Pavilion 4). It is organized by the Ministry of Tourism and 8 tourism companies will take part in it as co-exhibitors. The focus of this year presentation is the cultural, balneo-, SPA and wellness tourism and promotion of Bulgaria as all year round tourist destination with ancient culture and thousands of archaeological monuments, beautiful nature and tasty food. In front of the Bulgarian stand, youths in folk costumes will give away advertising materials during the exchange and a folklore dance group will have several performances daily alternating with tasting of Bulgarian wines and food products.

FITUR will be conducted from 18th to 22nd January. The exhibition is opened in the first three days only for professionals of the tourist industry and in the rest of the period – for the general public. The largest tour operators and tourist agencies take part in it. In 2016 it was attended by 9,600 exhibitors and co-exhibitors from 165 countries and the visitors were around 232 thousand, which puts the exchange among the leading exchanges in the world. It is expected that this year the international exhibitors will be by 9 % more. The exhibition area is also increased and spreads on 62,5 thousand sq.m.