11% of Bulgaria's Foreign Tourists Come for Cultural Tourism, Minister Reveals

11% of Bulgaria’s Foreign Tourists Come for Cultural Tourism, Minister Reveals

Pictured are the ruins of 4th century Ancient Roman thermae on the Cape of Kaliakra on Bulgaria's Northern Black Sea coast. Photo: ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com

Pictured are the ruins of 4th century Ancient Roman thermae on the Cape of Kaliakra on Bulgaria’s Northern Black Sea coast. Photo: ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com

A total of 11% of all foreign visitors in Bulgaria arrive specially for cultural tourism purposes, according to data revealed by the Bulgarian Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova.

Angelova has spoken at the opening of the 8th Black Sea Tourism Forum in the city of Varna, and the celebration of the 50th anniversary since “Tourism" became a major at the Varna University of Economics, as cited by local news site Top Novini Varna.

The Tourism Minister has noted that while the share of foreign tourists coming to Bulgaria specially for cultural tourism is not that great yet, about 80% of all foreign visitors also visit cultural, archaeological, and historical sites during their time in the country.

Worldwide, about 60% of international tourists are reported to travel for cultural tourism purposes.

According to the Ministry’s data, Bulgaria’s museums are visited by over 6 million people annually, and more than half of those are international travelers.

Explaining Bulgaria’s prerequisites for switching from conventional to cultural tourism, Angelkova has pointed out that the country is ranked 21st in the world in terms of the competitiveness of its cultural resources.

She has reminded that Bulgaria is third in Europe, after Italy and Greece, in the number of its archaeological sites, which are over 40,000.

These are monuments from seven different historical eras, and also include 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

What is more, Bulgaria has about 4,200 monasteries, churches, and “holy sites", and with its 1,600 mineral water springs is ranked second in Europe, only to Iceland, in terms of mineral water resources.

“We have all prerequisites to become a leading tourist destination. We need to use them to emerge as a year-round destination," Bulgaria’s Tourism Minister is quoted as saying.

She has also pointed out that the international promotion strategy of her Ministry for 2015 and 2016 is focused explicitly on cultural and historical tourism.

As part of these efforts, Bulgaria’s Ministry of Tourism has set up eight routes to promote cultural tourism by taking advantage of the Bulgarian historical and archaeological heritage (in addition to hundreds of other routes developed by the local authorities and private tourism firms), namely,

“Capitals and Cities of Bulgarian Tsars and Patriarchs", “Bulgaria’s Maritime Fortresses", “Bulgarian Architecture and Crafts", “Rose Festival", “The Route of the Thracians", “Sofia’s Holy Mount", “The Riches of the Northwest", and “Struma".

The Ministry has also promised to establish a ninth route dedicated to “The Valley of Thracian Kings".

During her presentation at the opening of the 8th Black Sea Tourism Forum in Varna, Angelkova has noted that the city is part of two of the newly established tourism routes, “Capitals and Cities of Bulgarian Tsars and Patriarchs" and “Bulgaria’s Maritime Fortresses".

“We are really relying on Bulgaria’s Black Sea regions for the development of competitive tourism combining summer maritime tourism with the opportunities for discovering the country’s cultural and historical heritage," the Bulgarian Tourism Minister has stated.