Bulgaria: economic and tourism opportunities await

| October 4, 2012 | 0 Comments
Nessebar, one of Bulgaria’s major seaside resorts.

Nessebar, one of Bulgaria’s major seaside resorts.

By Zlati Katzarski

Bulgaria has managed to weather the global economic crisis relatively well, thanks to a policy of strong fiscal discipline. The gross domestic product grew by 1.7 percent in 2011. During the first two quarters of 2012, the agricultural and industrial sectors increased respectively by 12.4 percent and 2 percent. In the near term, the European Commission projects GDP growth of 0.5 percent for 2012 and 1.9 percent in 2013.

Bulgarian exports have substantially increased since 2009. They rose by 33 percent in 2010 and a further 30 percent in 2011. Imports grew also — by 15 percent in 2010 and 21.3 percent in early 2012.

The Bulgarian government has undertaken a series of measures aimed at securing a balanced budget and economic growth. Its economic policy has been focused on three priority sectors: information and communication technologies, eco-technologies and health innovation. An overhaul of the existing regulatory regimes, simplification of administrative requirements at all levels and a large introduction of e-services have improved the business environment. Better conditions for new business and a favourable tax policy (low tax rates in Europe and a simplified tax system) should further encourage economic development and foreign investments.

Bulgaria is strongly committed to increasing foreign investments and expanding trade ties. Its strategic geographic location at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, north and south, makes it a gateway for foreign companies to vibrant regional markets. Despite the distance, bilateral economic relations with Canada are among the priorities in the government’s agenda.

We understand the importance of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada in boosting growth, creating new jobs and ensuring tangible long-term perspectives for economic development and prosperity. Bulgaria strongly supports the agreement and believes it will facilitate the free movement of our citizens to Canada where they can pursue business opportunities, academic studies or tourism.

Diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Canada began in 1966, yet the bilateral trade exchange became visible only in 2005. Despite the upward trend over subsequent years, it still remains modest and well below its potential. After a decline in 2010, bilateral merchandise trade reached its peak last year (Cdn $164.5 million), when it recorded growth of 44 percent over 2009. Bulgarian exports almost tripled, while imports from Canada have remained relatively stable at between Cdn $50 million to $60 million in recent years. Major export items of Bulgaria are precious metal residues, compound feed, sheet iron, confectionery and bakery products and automotive products. Imports from Canada include copper, vegetables, fish, electrical and chemical products.

Canadian direct investments in Bulgaria remain very modest. At the end of 2011, their total volume amounted to only Cdn $17.5 million. Most — including Dundy Precious Metals, Euromax Resources and Mundoro Capital — are in mining.

Bulgaria is a picturesque country and one of the most interesting tourist places in Southeastern Europe. It is famous for its variety of natural resources, flora and fauna, farming and culinary mastery, distinctive ethnography and folklore. Many people —Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Slavs and Ottoman Turks — who traversed our lands, left their mark in more than 30,000 cultural sites. This, together with the traditional hospitality of the Bulgarians, attracts millions of tourists annually. Bulgaria’s mild climate makes it a fascinating destination throughout the year.

The wide range of attractions offers something for every single tourist.

Bulgaria is ripe for rural and eco-tourism. The warm welcome, delicious traditional cuisine, authentic folklore and crafts, village festivals and dances will give you moments of joy, close to nature.

Few know that Bulgaria boasts the highest and largest mountain ranges in Southeast Europe. Their spectacular landscapes, ice lakes, caves and peaks offer an excellent opportunity for nature-oriented holidays in the summer: rafting along river streams, hunting, hiking and rock- climbing. In winter, mountain resorts offer attractive conditions for skiing. Bansko, situated at Mount Pirin, is a renowned European winter resort where international snowboard and ski competitions take place.

Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast is one of Europe’s most popular destinations for summer holidays. Resorts offer modern hotels, traditional restaurants and a variety of amusement facilities. Bulgaria also has mineral springs with nearby resorts and spas. The mineral and mud baths attract many guests yearly.
And don’t forget our high-quality dry white wines or rich and fragrant red wines, grown only in designated geographic regions.

Tourism to Bulgaria from Canada has increased over the last decade. About 6,000 Canadian citizens visited in 2000, rising to almost 15,000 in 2011. Others are noticing, too — in 2011, nearly nine million foreign tourists visited. Don’t miss the chance to become one of them.

Zlati Katzarski is chargé d’affaires of Bulgaria in Canada. Reach him at zlati.katzarski@mfa.bg or 613-857-7200.

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Category: Diplomatica

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