Thirty EU and Balkan countries meet in Sofia to discuss the economic role of tourism


Photo: Ladislav Tsvetkov

During a high-level meeting on tourism taking place in Sofia on 13 February 2018, representatives from 30 EU and Balkan countries will discuss the sustainable development of the tourism sector and its role as a driver for economic growth. The focus of three panel discussions will be the EU tourism regulations, security and the possibilities for boosting cooperation between Europe and China.

Tourism has an important economic role, accounting for more than 13 % of Bulgaria's GDP and about 10 % of the EU's GDP. In 2016, the revenue from international tourism in the EU amounted to EUR 341 billion. Host of the event will be the Bulgarian Minister of Tourism Ms Nikolina Angelkova.

Among the high-level delegates are Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska, EU Commissioner for Internal MarketIndustryEntrepreneurship and SMEs and Mr Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation. Ministers of tourism from all EU Member States and from the Balkan region as well as business representatives will attend the forum.  

Overall, delegations from around 30 countries are expected to take part. The informal meeting will consist of three main panels. The first panel will focus on the role of tourism as a driver for economic growth and regional integration and on the shared economy phenomenon and the implementation of related EU regulations. The second panel discussion will emphasise the role of security for the attractiveness of tourist destinations. During the last session, panellists will debate the importance of the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year initiative. The potential of the Chinese outbound market is enormous.

According to preliminary data, in 2017 there were more than 12.4 million tourist visits of Chinese citizens to Europe, a growth of 18 % compared to 2016.

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