SOFIA — Chinese and Bulgarian officials on April 28 voiced their hope to boost cooperation in tourism, promising to make full use of the unique resources of the two countries.
At the opening of the conference “EU-China Tourism Year 2018: New investment opportunities for the tourism sector in Bulgaria, Chinese Ambassador to Bulgaria Zhang Haizhou said “Today’s seminar reflects the strong desire of Bulgarian side to tap its potential, improve its services, and expand its market in tourism so as to attract more Chinese tourists.”
He said Bulgaria “has rich, unique tourism resources, and the Bulgarian government attaches great importance to the development of the tourism industry.”
At the same time, China, as a country of 5,000 years of civilizations, has rich resources in tourism, including world cultural and natural heritages and beautiful sceneries, the ambassador said.
Traveling to China will bring huge profits to Bulgarian tourism enterprises, he said, adding “The Chinese side sincerely welcomes more Bulgarian friends to China.”
Meanwhile, Bulgarian Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova said “I believe that Bulgaria has a huge potential to receive Chinese tourists.”
Creating joint tourism products by European countries was one of the ways to attract more Chinese tourists, Angelkova said.
Bulgaria would improve visa policy, and examine possibilities for direct flights to and from China, she said.
“The event today signals that Bulgaria is looking at the Chinese market, which is distant but promising,” said Teodora Marinska, head of Finance and Public policies at the European Travel Commission (ETC), which organized the conference jointly with Andrey Novakov, Member of the European Parliament, and Bulgarian-Chinese Business Development Association.
Tourism is one of the sectors that continue to grow even during crisis and continue to create jobs, she said.
In July 2016, the European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker and Premier Li Keqiang declared 2018 the EU-China Tourism Year in a bid to increase tourism between China and the EU, and help stimulate European enterprises to set foot on the booming tourism market in China and to allow more Chinese investments in Europe.
Last year, the number of tourists from China to Europe reached 5.13 million, however, only 10,000 Chinese tourists visited Bulgaria in 2016, according the Chinese ambassador.
He believed insufficient publicity, difficulties in visa application, and inconvenient traffic between China and Bulgaria were the factors behind the slow growth of tourism between the two countries, he said.