Minister Angelkova: Bulgarians have spent 9 million overnights in hotels in Bulgaria in 2017

24 March 2018

We expect 450,000 compatriots to travel on Easter and the quality control of tourism will be continuous

More and more Bulgarians choose to travel in Bulgaria. In the past year, our compatriots have spent about 9 million overnights in accommodation places with 10 or more beds. This was said by the Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova before the Darik Radio Weekly News. She stressed that one of the main policies of the Ministry of Tourism was the promotion of domestic tourism. Only in the summer in the period July-September nearly 2 million Bulgarian citizens aged 15 and older made tourist trips. Of them, over 1.6 million people have chosen to visit a place in the country and less than 300 thousand have traveled abroad. About 29% of Bulgarians traveling in the country choose where to stay on the basis of whether there are cultural and historical sites, the Minister explained. He added that the first campaign, which was implemented by the Ministry, was for cultural and historical tourism. During its implementation, 8 cultural and historical destinations were created for which are available online maps and brochures in 6 languages. This has led to an increase of between 10 and 90% in visits to tourist attractions, said Minister Angelkova. She added that the transformation of Bulgaria into a year-round destination is a major goal of the Ministry.

We expect more than 450,000 Bulgarian citizens to travel around the upcoming Easter holidays, the Minister said, specifying that they include travels in the country and abroad. It is mainly planned that the trips will be directed from the big cities in the country to the small town and the villages. At the same time, we foresee that there will be many foreign visitors, who will travel mainly to the bigger cities, said Minister Angelkova and added that the opportunities for balneo- and SPA tourism are being improved. The building of 7 balneo- and spa destinations was started, covering the entire territory of the country. The second stage of the investment card is also being developed, which facilitates and encourages investments in tourism. Separately, the discussions were also initiated on the joint project with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry - "Share Bulgaria", which includes 12 wine-culinary destinations, Minister Angelkova informed. She explained that following all these initiatives they expect the season wings to expand and more and more tourists to travel after the active months. A Festival of Events Register was also established, which includes 1278 events and festivals, of which 99 are of international and 358 of national importance. It can be found on the Ministry’s official website, and we will also create a special QR code in order to further facilitate the tourists, the Minister said.

Regarding the continuing winter season, the Minister announced that the visits of foreign tourists were nearly 895 thousand between December 2017 and January 2018, an increase of 17% compared to the same period a year earlier. We expect for the other months of the season to achieve an increase, she said.

Asked about the Unified Tourism Information System, Minister Angelkova said that its introduction is a key priority for the government and the ministry and explained that the commission should choose a contractor within a month and a half. It is envisaged that by the end of the year the unified system to be launched if there is no delay in the appeal procedure.

We consider that it is important and necessary to set up a tourist inspectorate at the ministry, Minister Angelkova said. It will be responsible for the subsequent administrative control and thus the quality control of tourism will be permanent. She gave an example with the Chiflika Palace Resort & SPA in the Troyan village of Chiflik, which should be closed, but in order to take action to remove the stars, the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) should alarm the Ministry. The hotel was twice inspected by the CPC and these checks revealed that there is no hair salon and even a vase, but not the vase is so important for the tourists but the rooms located in the basement, the walls of which are damp and the ceilings are cracked. Such situation was established from the inspection of the Ministry of Tourism after the alerts. It was also clear from her words that she was awaiting a letter from the CPC proposing a procedure for removing the stars of the "horror hotel" because that is the requirement of the Law on Tourism. If the Ministry had the possibility of subsequent administrative control, it would not wait for alerts, but would carry out continuous inspections as it does at the sea beaches, the Minister added.

A total of 328 inspections of sea beaches were performed by the Ministry of Tourism last year. The penalties imposed are BGN 93 thousand, all of them collected. In addition penal decrees were issued for BGN 70 thousand. In 2017, penalties from previous years amounting to BGN 131 thousand were collected. The total amount collected is BGN 224 thousand.

For the injured Bulgarians in Egypt, the Minister said that the tour operator Abaksa reacted promptly and did the right thing, as the relatives of the victims were immediately informed. The tour operator has immediately alerted the insurer so that to be able to react as quickly as possible, she added. Minister Angelkova also said that everyone must check whether her/his chosen tour operator has insurance and whether the same is registered in the National Tourist Register.

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