Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg's address at the opening of the First International Conference on Tourism "Bulgaria- Dream Area"

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your Excellencies,
Dear organizers,

It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the First International Conference on Tourism in Bulgaria "Bulgaria - Dream Area".
It is indicative that the new 2002 starts with such a prestigious event, dedicated to a sector with future and great potential - the tourism sector.

Let me repeat it is indicative because our country has great potential for development not only of tourism but of a whole tourism industry. I shall be glad if 2002 proves to be a turning point in this respect.

All of us who have gathered in this hall realize the importance the tourism business has for Bulgaria , as well as its useful role as a mechanism for creation of new jobs. God gave us a heavenly place to live in , with extraordinary natural resources, including the incredible mineral springs, about which Bulgaria's famous writer Blaga Dimitrova said "One may have come frim the Moon and still know this is Bulgaria by the gurgle of the water." Not to say a word about all those values - ancient history, culture, traditions, which make us part of the European community and which are tourism's essential basis.
It is important to know how to achieve our goals, how to make Bulgaria a dream area and to make this we need to apply well developed and functioning tourism strategy.

It is all up to us - private hotel and restaurants owners, government-controlling bodies. It is up to us and our knowledge to develop the potential of the tourism sector, to create appropriate and attractive conditions for foreigners, and why not for Bulgarian tourists as well, to make the most of the existing business climate and change it in a positive way, to attract foreign investments.

In my opinion we need an objective and impartial analysis of the situation in the sector, so that right and prospective decisions may be taken. We need a full package of applicable measures, marketing strategy and all our professionalism. I am sure that we won't be able to manage it without a massive advertising campaign, including the printed specialized media, Internet and tour operators.

True, it is going to be very hard to do this without sufficient means, suited equipment and legislative initiatives. It is in this direction that the Cabinet's efforts have been channeled through well-coordinated activities. The Cabinet is to conduct a national policy on tourism development in our economy as well as an inefficient instrument for socio-economic growth. With that end in view a new bill on tourism will be drawn up that will be harmonized with the European legislation, a new normative base concerning the building of a specialized infra and superstructure will be created. A new legislative system on the crediting of tourism companies is to be adopted as well dealing with the construction of new equipment. Special efforts will be made for stimulating small and middle-sized business in the sector, standards and criteria for staff training as a guarantee for improving the quality of the services. Our aim will be to make the offered tourism services more diverse by using our particular conditions. Ecotourism and village tourism, for example, are an attractive product on the international market and besides they offer a perfect solution for the mountainous and semi-mountainous regions, where no industry can be developed.

I've observed the crucial role of the tourism sector in Spain's development for many years and I claim that tourism services contributed to increasing the living standard not only there but in many countries all over the world. Recently the decrease in tourism travels, following the September 11 events, is being paid special attention since it brings great losses to the economy on a global scale. The world is anxious and determined to return the security and attractiveness of the tourism sector, which, as you know, can be affected by the slightest signs of instability in a given region.

Now is the moment for us to start working actively for the attraction of the European and World Tourism sector. We should not forget that thanks to our geography we are within the scope of such tourism giants as Athens. We highly appreciate the interest of foreign tourism experts in our country and we want to thank them for the attention they pay to the sector problems. I am acquainted with many foreigners who are enchanted by Bulgaria, carry incredible impression from the sites they have seen, but are also disappointed to a certain extent by what we offer them. Tourism demands not only security and safety, comfort and interesting entertainments, but also a huge organization, diverse and comprehensive information, flawless communications and respect for the others. As a client in the sector I have reached the conclusion that the number of the tourists, visited the country, is not that important as the number of tourists who come back two or three times. I want to extend my gratitude to the organizers of this conference - Governor Miller and Mr. Maxim Behar, who not only decided to face such an urgent for our country problem but also gathered in this hall all those on whom the flourishing of the tourism sector in Bulgaria depends - ministers, ambassadors, experts, consultants, tour operators, and I hope, future investors. I am sure that this wonderful idea will be supported by discussions and opinions, which will benefit tourism development in our country.

I assure you, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the Cabinet will do its best so that the tourism sector in Bulgaria is assigned the place on the international market it deserves.

I wish all participants in the conference meaningful discussions and successful work for the good of our country!