Searching for ways to support tourismEuropost , Sofia
The prime ministers of Bulgaria and Russia, Boyko Borissov and Dmitry Medvedev, opened a tourism business forum on the second and last day of Medvedev's official visit to Bulgaria. Opening the forum, Borissov said that “amid sanctions and high tensions in the multipolar world, my colleague Dmitry Medvedev and I have managed to maintain pragmatic working relations”. He added that as a nation, the Bulgarians should not split into Russophiles and Russophobes but should keep in mind their Bulgarian interests.
Borissov said Bulgaria has destinations to offer for cultural, historical and religious tourism, and visas can be obtained in 59 Russian cities. The launch of a ferry service between Burgas and Novorossiysk is being discussed, which will allow people to arrive by car. “Our balanced foreign policy largely ensures the tourists' safety because we have good relations with various countries. To provide security, we work with the police services long before the start of the tourist season,” he said.
For his part, Medvedev said the hall was filled to capacity, which means that tourism is going strong. He said his visits to Bulgaria had always been a pleasure for 11 years now. “Hospitality is rooted in traditions - without it many Russian tourists would not be coming here,” he said, adding that cordiality is the hallmark of the Bulgarian tourism industry.
Some 500,000 Russian tourists visit Bulgaria each year but many of them, about 300,000 people, own real estate on the Black Sea coast, said Medvedev. He praised Bulgaria's climate and reasonably priced holidays as being attractive to tourists. Bulgarians also take holidays in Russia, although they are fewer, he said.
Speaking at the Bulgarian-Russian tourism business forum, Russia's Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said the tourist flow from Russia to Bulgaria dropped by 25% in the last few years, the main cause being that the lev is pegged to the euro. This has made the Bulgarian currency very stable in the last five years, but it also makes trips to Bulgaria 15% to 20% more expensive than those to Sochi, Tunisia or Turkey. Oreshkin said the competitiveness of the Bulgarian tourism product is falling and most Russian tourists prefer to take holidays in Russia or to visit Turkey.
Bulgaria's Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova promised that a mechanism conforming to both EU and national legislation would be sought to increase the competitiveness of the tourism product.