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Amongst shifting consciousness around sustainability and the global growth in tourism, sustainable tourism offers innovative opportunities for the travel sector. A new forum in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria is at the heart of this emerging trend.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism, the second fastest growing industry after healthcare, accounts for 10.4% of the global GDP, with over 319million people currently employed in the industry - by 2029, this figure will have jumped to 429million. But while it can undoubtedly be a huge source of income, sustainability can be an issue when it comes to the long term environmental and socio-economic impact of tourism on a country and its people.


Current predictions say that nearly 50% of World Heritage Sites, which are recognised by UNESCO for their outstanding universal value, currently do not have any plans in place in terms of managing the negative impact of tourism. And this is a particularly important issue in countries which are experiencing a rapid increase in visitors.

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Bulgaria is one such country in the middle of a rapid uptick in the number of visitors. The Southern European country has seen a 30% boost in tourism over the last three years, with 9.2million foreign nationals visiting in 2018 alone – that’s over 2million more than the entire population of the country. And it’s only set to grow, with predictions suggesting that there will be another 50% increase over the next ten years. Now the Bulgarian Tourism Minister, Nikolina Angelkova, has revealed that the government are putting a significant effort into creating a sustainable future for the industry which, last year, created 3.9billion euros worth of business.


When it comes promoting a sustainable approach to tourism, it means having structures and plans put in place to conserve the environment as the footfall of tourists rises. Further to environmental protections, it is about ensuring tourism provides a catalyst for growth in local economies and communities, creating opportunities for enterprise and employment. This dual narrative of people and place is at the heart of the aim of sustainable to increase the benefits and reduce any less desirable impacts of tourism. Owing to its rich natural heritage and green landscapes, Bulgaria is a prime example of an eco-tourist’s haven. In the southeast of the country, along the edge of the Black Sea lies Strandja National Park, offering the chance to experience the beautiful rolling green hills, whilst helping to contribute to the protection of the natural flora and fauna.

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This drive for a better future for tourism comes at a time when there is a shift in consciousness around sustainability in general. From global conversations around climate change, to the on-going efforts by brands and consumers alike to end single-use plastic, being environmentally aware is one of 2019’s biggest trends. Kelly Bricker, Vice-Chair of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, explains that it can be key in helping people to develop a better lifestyle. “In a world where our connection to nature is more critical now than ever before, ecotourism can be the connection and impetus for conserving nature” she said in an interview, “It can help getting people outdoors, and benefit communities for increased quality of life and well-being.”


One of the ways in which they will achieve this is with the inaugural Investing in Tourism Sustainability Conference, which will take place at the end of May at the Helena Resort, Sunny Beach. The event, which falls over three days, has been designed to give both investors, and business owners alike, a chance to learn about the opportunities available for the development of tourism in Bulgaria. Bringing together a range of figures from industries such as tourism, aviation and hotel associations, the forum offers a unique chance to learn more about the Southern European country. And, with the support of renowned business leaders and government, there is a hope that it will pave the way for a more sustainable future for tourism in the country.

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Ministry of Tourism Bulgaria

The Ministry of Tourism is the state institution established to support the tourism industry and promote Bulgaria as an attractive all-year-round tourism destination. The foundations of the country's tourism development are sustainable production, increased productivity and competitiveness, that is based on advanced technologies, innovation and modern industrial policies. The Ministry of Tourism creates a less bureaucratic, investment-friendly environment, with simple and transparent procedures for business and effective management in the benefit of entrepreneurs.

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