EU Tourism Ministers Discuss Ways to Improve Quality of Tourism Product
Sofia, February 13 (BTA) - Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova told a news conference that ways to improve the quality of the tourism product were on the agenda of Tuesday's High-Level Meeting of the Ministers of Tourism of the EU Member States on "Tourism and Economic Growth" in Sofia.
The role of tourism in each country's economy and the importance of this industry, which creates jobs and generates over 10 per cent of Europe's GDP were also discussed, said Angelkova.
The participants, including representatives of the Western Balkan countries, also discussed the region's connectivity, tourism integration and the creation of joint products for remote markets. Financing possibilities in the context of the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) were on the agenda. Angelkova said that her Croatian counterpart had suggested that a European Tourism Fund be set up.
Answering a question, Angelkova said direct flights between Sofia and Beijing were being negotiated.
Elzbieta Bienkowska, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, identified digitalization and skills as challenges in the context of the next MFF.
Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), singled out the need to achieve the best quality in the tourism sector. "We talked about digitalization and start-ups, which is the future of tourism," he said. He stressed the importance of cooperating with the private sector. The UNWTO has around 535 million affiliate members, which are private companies, but there are no Bulgarian members. He expressed a hope that projects for digitalization and start-ups would be financed from external sources, by private companies and perhaps by financial institutions.
Parliament Chairperson Tsveta Karayancheva and Michael Christides, Secretary General of the Organization for Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), concurred that Bulgaria plays an important role in promoting partnership in tourism among the BSEC Member States. Christides is in Bulgaria for the informal meeting of the EU tourism ministers.
Karayancheva noted that BSEC works to deepen and expand interaction in various areas, and expressed a hope that Bulgaria would contribute to this as Country Coordinator for the Working Group on Cooperation in Tourism until the end of June.