Bulgaria will advertise its culture and historical heritage with video clips and films, will start issuing licenses to tour guides while the cabinet will invest in the infrastructure of the tourist sites.
Bulgarian ministers, archeologists, businessmen and tour operators joined around these ideas Sunday, during a national debate on the culture tourism, organized by the Bulgarian daily "Standart," held in the Arena di Serdika hotel in downtown Sofia.
Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, stated investments in culture tourism yield a 200 times return in just 5 to 10 years when they are made by experts, and asked for a list with priority archeological sites, so that the State can slate money for their financing.
According to Djankov, the investment cycle must include scientific research, archeological excavations, restoration and conservation, infrastructure construction and advertisement. He further pointed out the sites must be ranked by order of priority with those almost completed, already having infrastructure, offering the possibility to combine culture tourist with other types of leisure, and located in economically underdeveloped areas topping the list.
The Minister without portfolio for Bulgarians Abroad, Bozhidar Dimitrov, who is also a renowned historian, explained Bulgaria suffers from the poor management of its historical tourist sites where the State has abdicated its responsibilities, leaving their running to local municipalities, which often are careless about them and fail to reinvest the revenues.
According to Dimitrov, the difference between Bulgaria and Italy and Greece is that the country's culture heritage is underground and in the form of ruins, for this reason it must invest not only in archeology excavations, but in restoration, conservation, and infrastructure.
The Minister also pointed out the lack of adequate advertisement both on the part of archeologists and tour operators continues to be a huge problem for the country's tourism, and gave as an example author Dimitar Nedkov and his bestseller "The Bulgarian's Sign," which after appearing on bookstands increased revenues and visits at the Zemen Monastery over 5 times.
One of Bulgaria's top archeologist, Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov informed the country has about 43 000 registered historical sites and archeology now draws a larger number of tourists, pointing at the famous Thracian rock city and sanctuary of Perperikon attracting 250 visitors per year compared to 0 just 10 years ago.
Deputy Minister of Tourism, Ivo Marinov, stated the cabinet, the historians and the business must unite in order to avoid single-handed investments and establish the most suitable sites which could be restored and finished with the least resources.
Sofia's Mayor, Yordanka Fandakova, reported there is a plan to display the relics of St. John the Baptist in Sofia, after they travel abroad, adding the relics will attract not only Bulgarian visitors but pilgrims from Greece and Serbia.
The "Standart" Editor-in-Chief, Slavka Bozukova, informed representatives of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church have been invited to the discussion, but for unknown reasons did not appear. Bozukova voiced hope the clergy would allow the relics to be transported to Sofia for the Day of the Christian Family.