ANALYTICAL REVIEW OF HERITAGE TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN BULGARIA
This paper combines reflections on my personal experiences of internship practice in Rome, Italy at one of the largest youth campsites, accommodating international travelleres to famous heritage tourism sites with an analytical review of the key trends and issues of the Bulgarian heritage tourism. I tried to clarify the meaning of the HT as a term and its dimensions as a SIT phenomena.
The paper provides analysis of the importance of HT for the Bulgarian tourism as a powerful industry sector and the benefits for the local regions. It also pays attention to the hidden potential of the communist heritage tourist resources as a new attraction tool for territorial diversification and new tourist itineraries.
Current HT development is examined as well, with regard to supply and demand and special emphasis is put on the future prospects for developing a new Strategic Plan for cultural heritage tourism in Bulgaria - Naples /Sofia, 2009.
Statistical data from the EU Analytical Report on the Attitudes of the Europeans towards Tourism – 2009 is used to illustrate tourists’ motivation and structure of tourist flows.
Key words: heritage, Bulgaria. tourism, culture, development, strategy
Importance of HT
At the very beginning of this paper it should be emphasised that the Bulgarian Heritage Tourism cannot be analysed separately from Cultural Tourism. It only could be considered in the lights of the overall situation and trends in the cultural sector. There is not a special strategic plan for development of Heritage tourism in particular – it is woven into the global sector of Bulgarian Cultural tourism. In terms of Culture as a social phenomena it could be considered as to concentric circles: -
inner circle which represents the culture heart, i.e. more traditional or the basic elements -
outer circle which represents the lifestyle of the local population
The two circles form а solid cultural product based on the above definition, several subcategories could be defined depending on tourists’ motivation and the specific tourist activities: -
urban culture tourism
rural culture tourism
local culture tourism
- modern culture tourism
Heritage Tourism is interrelated with Cultural tourism and all kinds of alternative tourism, and is said to be the fastest developing component of tourism – offering quality experience of cultural appreciation and historic authenticity. The SIT phenomena (‘special interest tourism’), which is regarded by research workers as an initial drive for the expansion of tourism, could serve as a qualitative distinction tool for the development of the Bulgarian heritage tourism industry and a major drive for exploiting hidden potentials in Bulgaria.
Despite the existing long traditions, heritage and cultural tourism in Bulgaria still does not correspond to the rich cultural heritage of the country and to modern trends in this field. Despite the problems of the sector, Bulgarian HT has been growing over the last decade and is turning into one of the most important factors for the country economy. The population and local authorities, especially in the places with high number of cultural heritage attractions, realize that heritage is a huge resource for future development and prosperity. The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2009 points out two main competitive advantage indicators for the appropriate use of cultural resources in Bulgaria – number of heritage sites and sports facilities.
Heritage tourism (of Cognitive purposes) in Bulgaria consisits of visiting bigger towns with their historical, cultural and archeological sites of interest. Museum-towns and villages, places of natural beauty, ancient fortresses, tombs are available, together with remarkable monasteries and churches.
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