In a joint effort to advance sustainable tourism
development in the Danube region, the countries in the Danube have
agreed to establish a Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories
in the region, under the auspices of the UNWTO.
The formal agreement was signed during an
official visit of UNWTO’s Secretary-General to Sofia, Bulgaria on
8 June 2015.
On the occasion of the visit, UNWTO
Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, met with the President of
Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev, to discuss the cooperation between
UNWTO and the country and how to strengthen Bulgaria’s tourism
sector. During the meeting, Mr. Rifai commended the Bulgarian
Government for setting up a Ministry dedicated to tourism.
“High-level political support has been key to the outstanding
progress of the Bulgarian tourism sector in recent years. In 2014,
more than 7 million international tourists visited Bulgaria, a new
record, and a clear result of the political will to place tourism
as a priority in the socio-economic development strategies of
Bulgaria“ said Mr. Rifai.
The visit also included the
signing of a Letter of Commitment between UNWTO and the Priority
Area 3 on “promoting culture, tourism, people-to-people contacts”
of the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR),
representing 14 Member States, to establish a Network of
Sustainable Tourism Observatories under the auspices of UNWTO.
The Observatories will measure tourism’s social, economic and
environmental impact along the Danube River and help define
adequate sustainable tourism policies in the region. The Network
of Sustainable Tourism Observatories in the Danube will join the
eight Observatories currently operating in China (seven) and the
Aegean Islands of Greece. The agreement was signed by Nikolina
Angelkova, Minister of Tourism of Bulgaria, joint coordinator
country of EUSDR Priority Area 3, and Mr. Rifai, on the sidelines
of the Meeting of the Danube Region - Sustainable tourism through
cooperation with European funds and investments.
“Tourism is a main pillar in the economies of the countries
from the Danube region. In the past year the Danube countries have
been visited by over 120 million tourists, which generated revenues of over 70 billion euro. It is very important to focus
our efforts on establishing the Danube brand as such and on
becoming more recognizable worldwide, reaching distant markets in
particular. I hope that together with our neighboring countries we
will manage to efficiently use the available cross-border funding.
Romania and Bulgaria can avail of 260 million euro; also, we have
a joint project with Serbia which amounts to 34 million euro. A
great part of these funds are targeted at tourism,” said Ms. Angelkova.
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