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New Tourism Strategy Spells Bright Future for Bulgaria

Bulgaria will launch a major new tourism strategy highlighting the wide range of attractions the country has to offer as it attempts to raise its profile in the UK as a mainstream holiday destination during the participation of the country at the World Travel Market, Travel Daily News writes.

Bulgaria's participation at WTM coincides with the launch of a new UK advertising campaign which promotes Bulgaria under the banner of "Magic Lives Here" and focuses on some of the country's lesser-known tourism products including spas and well-being, culture and folklore; and eco-tourism.

The campaign forms part of a wider effort by Bulgaria to position itself as a desirable tourist destination in three of its major markets: the UK, Germany, and Russia.

Addressing a media gathering at WTM, Bulgaria's Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, Mr Traycho Traykov, said: "Nearly 300,000 UK tourists visited Bulgaria in 2010. With the help of the new advertising campaign our target is to increase this number to around 500,000 by 2020".

The advertising campaign is being supported with a wider communications campaign of PR activities. Bulgaria Tourism has also launched an official new web portal www.bulgariatravel.org which is available in nine languages. It covers more than 450 cities, resorts and villages and provides information on everything from conference facilities to UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Minister Traykov said: "A lot of people still assume that Bulgaria is a country for mainly cheap beach holidays and skiing but there are many other offerings which deserve to become much better-known. Our new strategy positions Bulgaria as a destination that can offer the discerning traveller a wide range of experiences all year-round."

Minister Traykov said stronger promotion of cultural tourism as well as health spas and wellness were key priorities for the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism. "Bulgaria has a rich and diverse culture with more than 40,000 ancient sites and monuments including nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 160 monasteries and 330 museums."

Minister Traykov said Bulgaria had the attributes to become one of Europe's major cultural centres. The Bulgarian government had committed to investing 150 million BGN (£65.5 million) in 2011 to the preservation of the country's heritage and the construction of tourist attractions.

On spas and wellness, Minister Traykov commented: "Bulgaria has been blessed with the gift of nature. Our country is rich in mineral springs. We have more than 600 sites that provide endless opportunities for health and beauty treatments."

He said there were now more than 100 spa and wellness centres in mountain areas such as Rodopi, Pirin and Rila and also on the Black Sea coast. According to the forecasts of the Bulgarian Union of Balneology and SPA tourism, the expected growth in the revenue in this sector could reach 20% in 2011.

In a significant boost to Bulgaria's ambitious plans to establish itself as a world-class spa destination, Sofia has been selected to host the 18th Annual Congress of the European Spas Association in 2013.

Minister Traykov said Bulgaria was now totally committed to long-term investment in its tourism industry. "We have already embarked on a plan which will see massive developments in infrastructure over the next few years including a new motorway network. We are also investing heavily in restoring historical attractions, improving the quality of our beaches and ski resorts and laying new hiking paths and mountain trails".

He said the Ministry was keen to spread tourism more evenly across the country and to develop diverse and integrated tourism projects, among which is the cross-border project "The Path of the Roman Emperors", the cycling tourism project "The Path of the Iron Curtain", the project for the development of the Danube River region as a green tourism area including the provision of cycling routes and campsites.

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