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Lost PHARE funds to have negative effect on tourism

Date: 28.11.2008

The revocation of EUR 220 M from the PHARE program is going to have its negative effects on the entire economy, including the tourism sector because it involves funds for Bulgaria's infrastructure, the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivaylo Kalfin stated on Wednesday.

Kalfin spoke after the conclusion of the first meeting of the state-public Tourism Commission.

The modest budget for tourism advertisement for yet one more year is mainly a result of the lack of accord between the State and the tourism sector and the lack of national strategy, was the explanation offered by Kalfin regarding the amount of less than BGN 6 M slated for tourism in the 2009 budget.

Anelya Kruchkova, Chair of the State Touris Agency commented that this was the moment for Bulgaria to reach maximum effect in attracting tourists, adding that now the country's advertisement efforts needed to focus on those markets that registered increase for 2008 - Russia and the former Soviet republics, neighboring countries, countries from Central and Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.

Bulgarian hotel owners spoke at the meeting, pointing out that Bulgaria must impose a new vision of a year-round tourist destination with possibilities of SPA tourism.

Tourism sector representatives spoke about their proposal of a program to promote Bulgaria as a tourist destination estimated at BGN 35 M. The Ministries Council is going to examine the proposal and decide how it could be combined with other initiatives in order to finance it.

Ivaylo Kalfin announced that his Deputy Milen Keremedchiev was going to meet with Bulgarian tour operators to discuss additional alleviations for the issuing of Bulgarian visas to Russian nationals. Keremedchiev is also scheduled to travel to Russia next week to have talks with Russian tourist companies as well.

Other topics discussed at the meeting were copyrights issues related to playing Bulgarian music in restaurants and bars and criteria for registering tourist companies.

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