BULGARIA BOOMS AS AN ALTERNATIVE DESTINATION
A recent analysis carried out by the Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism (BAAT) said the country’s rich history and tradition coupled with abundant natural resources has made Bulgaria a preferred alternative tourism destination.
Safety, an increasing number of tour operators and programs for alternative tourism and enhanced media awareness are cited as the strengths of alternative tourism in Bulgaria, which includes tourism packages and individual tourism services for natural and cultural tourism. The friendly nature of Bulgarian people and the excellent cuisine also counts.
BAAT called for the development and adoption of new tourism laws, improved infrastructure and services, the introduction of common quality standards and an evaluation system for accommodations and other services. In order to utilize these available opportunities, the establishment of new education and training centers for qualification of mountain guides, activities coordinators and managers of guesthouses is recommended. Experts said the massive construction projects on the Black Sea may lead to an exodus of tourists from there and also from Bulgaria.
ALTERNATIVE TOURISM IN BULGARIA: STILL LEARNING HOW TO WALK
Around 340,000 Bulgarians and 220,000 foreigners choose rural tourism in Bulgaria in 2007. This was announced by Rumen Draganov, member from the leadership of Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism (BAAT) by the occasion of the association’s 10th birthday. The turnover from rural and alternative tourism in Bulgaria in 2007 goes to 130 million BGN (65 million EUR) from a total turnover in tourism of 2,5 billion BGN (1,2 billion EUR). According to the definition for alternative tourism it includes: rural, mountain, adventure, culture, exotic, religious, wine and ethnographic.
Bulgarian Ocean Views
Ten years after the establishing of BAAT, it is believed that the alternative tourism is still learning how to walk due to the serious disunion of the different types of activities and due to different tourism training of people in the sphere.
Possibilities for enlargement of ecology and eco-tourism are hidden in the developing in out of the way rural regions unique in architecture and traditions.
The set up and maintaining of eco-hotels, plus serving dishes, cooked with ecology grown products is another way among the most modern and expensive natural experiences.
To read more click here.
GREEN DAYS FOR RESPONSIBLE TOURISM AND HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism /BAAT/ appeals for preservation of Bulgarian nature and the development of a responsible, nature-friendly alternative tourism. The Association has organized for a second year in a row the so-called Green Days that will take place downtown Sofia.
Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria
“We have villages in Bulgaria that keep the spirit and tradition of ancient times. Our mountains are impressive with their beauty, the people are friendly and hospitable, they even produce organic wine and bio products. Let’s develop Bulgarian tourism and business in a sustainable and responsible manner, if we want this fairy tale to continue!” That was the appeal that BAAT started an initiative with – an initiative that will gather in the heart of the capital producers of bio products, representatives of municipalities that develop village and eco tourism, along with all those, who love Bulgarian nature. There will be stands in front of the National Theatre that will offer different kinds of certified organic food, mountain gear and goods, related to a greener and more responsible lifestyle. The municipalities will also popularize their latest offers for leisure outdoor activities. Competitions, art workshops and lessons in ecological behavior – those all will be provided for the kids that will visit the festival.
“Organic markets are one of the accents in this year’s Green Days – CEO of BAAT Kiril Kaloyanov says. – There will be organic food and bio-cosmetics of local producers. Bulgarian tourist destinations will be presented too. Strandja Nature Park for instance will participate with its own offers for eco tourism, as well as with locally produced foods. The Green Days will include a photographic competition on the subject nature preservation and sustainable tourism and also different competitions – bicycling and climbing of artificial wall. We will also organize the so-called recycling workshops. We want to present different artistic approaches on how we should treat garbage in a useful manner. There will be many ecological movies too.”
To read more click here.
ETHICAL FARM STAYS IN BULGARIA
Travelers can experience rural Bulgaria’s charming traditions in style, thanks to a new breed of ethical farm stays and a hip lodge.
There is small but significant farm stay movement that has developed as a response to the social gloom gripping Europe in general and this country in particular. The coveted Green Lodge badge is given to rural retreats around the country which have outstanding green credentials, by the Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism. BAAT is all about rural authenticity, ethno- and eco-tourism, and adventure and learning holidays. This taps into Bulgaria’s huge and as yet unexploited natural, ethnic and culinary wealth, and it is exactly what the country needs to move beyond cheap-and-cheerful seaside or skiing packages.
The mountain village of Gela, alleged birthplace of Orpheus and host to a bagpipe festival on 3 August. It is also home to Villa Gella, a new lodge with positively lyrical views over the mountains from its veranda, a swimming pool loud with birdsong, and rooms exquisitely stuffed with antiques, fine linens and Bulgarian rose-oil products. There is even a library with good books in English and Bulgarian.
This new family-run lodge is a pioneer in eastern Europe, with high-end dining, facilities and service in rustic surroundings. They’re also crying out for tourists to come and share in a good, natural way of life that trumps the social and economic experiments this part of Europe has survived – just.
To read the full article in the Guardian UK, click here.
GREEK CRISIS: IS BULGARIA SAFE? YES!
Compared to the decline in Greece, Bulgaria is a completely different case. Following a severe bank crisis in 1997 the government and Bulgarian National Bank introduced strict rules for state spending and bank capitalisation. Between the years 1998 and 2008 there were budget surpluses (Bulgarian government was spending less money than collecting). Bulgaria has much lower state debt and budget deficit of less than 3%. 2009 was the only year when the budget deficit exceeded this healthy figure going up to just 4%. The restrictions provide confidence in the stable development of the economy but, on the other hand, make life of most Bulgarians hard as majority spend about half of their budget on food and utilities. Bulgarian economy just started in last quarter of 2010 to grow slowly again after the last crisis.
There are other points which are to the positive side. Over 2,000 Greek companies have moved their business to Bulgaria recently fearing the problems in their home land. Some Greeks are looking to invest their savings away from the uncertain banks and quite a few sales have been completed during the summer months in the ski resorts and regions in Southwest Bulgaria with Greek buyers. In addition there has been steady growth of Greek tourists holidaying in Bulgarian winter and spa resorts in the same regions.
Editor’s note: Original World Travel offers a small group guided 8 day tour of Bulgaria as well as a 19 day combined Bulgaria and Romania tour twice monthly Spring thru Fall. An extension to Moldova is offered twice annually. All these destinations are also offered as private custom tours.