Sofia. The first meeting of the mayors of the Central and Eastern European countries in 16+1 format was held under the banner “Sofia – the Intersection of New Opportunities” at Sofia Tech Park. It was opened by Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova and the Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova. Fandakova said the city was hosting this meeting on a proposal by the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, during his visit to Beijing in the same format. She emphasized that Sofia is attracting more and more tourists, stating that in the last 6 years alone we have achieved more than 60% increase in their number, and for the first 6 months of this year they are 8% more than in the same period last year. According to her, thanks to the investments made by both the Municipality and the business representatives, Sofia is in the top 30 of the fastest growing cities in the world. In addition, the city has been ranked first among European capitals in terms of GDP growth over the last 10 years. According to Fandakova, such meetings of the mayors of different capitals make it possible not only to discuss ideas but also to negotiate joint projects.
Minister Angelkova pointed out that 2016 is turning out to be a record for Bulgarian tourism, with over 4.5 million foreign tourists visiting our country in the first 7 months. The minister said that according to the World Tourism Barometer, a total of over 144 million foreign tourist visits to the countries involved in the initiative were recorded last year, with revenues of about $ 162 billion. With regard to Bulgaria, Minister Angelkova pointed out that in the past 2015 Sofia was visited by nearly 916,000 tourists, with the sector bringing to the capital 116 million levs only from nights. According to her, 2016 started at an even better rate, with almost 553,000 tourists welcoming our capital for the first 7 months, which is an increase of 8.6% over last year. She stressed that tourism is not just entertainment but an economic sector that generates an enormous amount of revenue.
Minister Angelkova emphasized that the common goal of the Ministry of Tourism and the Sofia Municipality is to keep tourists longer in the region. That is why the Ministry’s team has developed 8 cultural and historical destinations that cover the whole country. She commented that one of them, Sofia Sveta Gora, is centered around the capital. In addition, interactive maps of the 8 developed cultural and historical destinations have been published on the website of the institution to make it easier for tourists to discover the landmarks in each region.
Minister Nikolina Angelkova and Mayor Yordanka Fandakova congratulated the representatives of the branch on the occasion of September 27th World Tourism Day.
Miloslava ANGELOVA, FOCUS Information Agency