BlueLink signed the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria

The Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria was signed by the Ministries of Environment and Tourism, together with representatives of tourism and environmental protection organizations, including BlueLink Civic Action Network. In addition, the network will participate in the Charter’s promotion and the attraction of new supporters, together with the Bulgarian Tourist Chamber and the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW).

The Charter represents a code of ethics and after its adoption today it will remain open for support from all interested parties - local authorities, institutions, representatives of business and civil society. The goal is to turn it into a kind of green code of ethics for everyone who works for the development of sustainable tourism in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Tourist Chamber and the BlueLink Civic Action Network have committed to maintaining and updating the list of charter stakeholders.

 Contents of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria

Our vision is to turn Bulgaria into a desirable year-round tourist destination for sustainable tourism, preserving and using its natural and cultural-historical heritage in a responsible manner, with maximum benefit for the host local communities and destinations, declare the signatories of the Charter. To realize this vision, they envisage:
  ● Confirmation of Bulgaria as a tourist destination with a characteristic identity based on preserved, authentic and socialized natural and cultural-historical sights;
  ● Sustainable development of the regions through reasonable use of resources and development of modern and nature-friendly tourist infrastructure;
  ● Achieving a high level of sensitivity to the preservation and use of natural and cultural-historical heritage and benefit to local communities;
  ● Development and offering of a high-quality and attractive tourist product;
  ● Substantial improvement of accessibility to destinations by rail or other public transport.

The mission of the Charter is formulated as follows:
  "We are committed to bringing our activities into full compliance with the legal requirements and principles of Bulgarian and European legislation in our activities for the development of tourism, nature protection and promotion of the natural and cultural-historical heritage, with guaranteed transparency and accountability to the public and constructive dialogue between stakeholders.
  We are committed to working to create conditions for the sustainable development of destinations and tourist areas, increasing the competitiveness of the tourism sector and the quality of the tourist product."

The Charter introduces the following core principles, which the signatories undertake to apply:

  •   shared values
  •   timely inclusion of citizens and interested parties
  •   planning for sustainable development of an integrated approach and protection of the public interest
  •   expertly informed choice
  •   growth for the benefit of local communities
  •   high added value
  •   conservation
  •   environmental and digital accessibility
  •   zero impact
  •   good practices.


 You can see the full text of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria here.


At a hearty ceremony in the MOEW, the first to sign the document were the Minister of Environment and Water, Julian Popov, and the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Irena Georgieva (respectively left and right in the photo above), the chairman of the Bulgarian Tourist Chamber Georgi Nikolov, the chairman of the Board of the Bulgarian Association of Experts in Tourism Dimcho Todorov, Desislava Alexova - representative of the Association of Parks in Bulgaria, the director of the Institute for Analyzes and Forecasts of the Information Environment in Tourism Rumen Draganov and the executive editor of the BlueLink Foundation, Pavel Antonov.

"11 years ago, as a caretaker minister, I took an initiative that we are now implementing. It is not only about hotels and tourism business, but about the interaction with nature. The purpose of developing a Charter for sustainable tourism in Bulgaria is for the organizations involved in tourism to unite around common principles of behavior. This will facilitate the debate on communicating with nature in order to avoid conflicts related to investment intentions," said the Minister of Environment and Water Julian Popov.

"I would like to thank MoEW that they joined us in supporting an extremely important cause for the imposition of sustainable tourism. I believe that the charter will be supported by many business and civil organizations and that the development of the process will continue according to the principles laid down in the document," Deputy Minister Irena Georgieva said in turn. Minister Popov issued a special invitation to municipalities in Bulgaria to join the Charter for Sustainable Tourism and emphasized that they are an extremely important partner in this cause.

 Joining the Charter for Sustainable Tourism

The charter for sustainable tourism in Bulgaria can be signed by public and private institutions, local government, business and non-profit organizations who are committed to cooperating for its effective implementation.

Inclusion as a party to the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria takes place through an application for accession, in which a representative of the relevant interested party declares in free text his support for it and undertakes to implement and respect its principles. The application should be sent by the legal representative of the relevant interested party at harta [dot] tourism [at] moew [dot] government [dot] bg.

Questions about the Charter for Sustainable Tourism can also be addressed to BlueLink. The network will participate in the maintenance and promotion of the Charter, together with the Bulgarian Tourist Chamber and the Department of Strategic Planning for the Environment at MoEW.

The origins of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism

In the photo below, left: Georgi Nikolov, Chairman of the Board, Bulgarian Tourist Chamber, and right: Associate Professor Dr. Dimcho Todorov, Chairman, Bulgarian Association of Tourism Experts, during the signing of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria.

The first initiative for the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria dates back to 2013, when it was developed within the Public Council of MOEW, then led by Julian Popov as acting minister. After his return to office as part of the regular "Denkov-Gabriel" government, Popov activated the completion of the Charter, with the help of Pavel Antonov, who was his adviser on civil society.

During the period August 2023-March 2024, experts from MoEW, Ministry of Tourism (MT), MP Vasil Todev, as well as representatives of the Bulgarian Tourist Union, the Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism, the Institute for Analysis and Forecasting of the Information Environment in Tourism, the Association of Parks, Odyssey Inn and the BlueLink Foundation. In February 2024, the mentioned parties, as well as the National Tourism Board and the Bulgarian Tourist Chamber discussed the text of the document at a round table, held jointly by MoEW and MT.

The signing of the Charter is a logical step on the part of BlueLink, as a network for civic action, after we actively promoted the sustainable use of ecosystem services along the Black Sea in 2016-2017, explained Pavel Antonov. Then within the project SPECIES, led by the Balkan Wildlife Association with the financial support of EEA Grants through MoEW, BlueLink explored the interest of local municipalities in combining sustainably tourism and nature conservation.

In 2019 - 2021, BlueLink supported the valorization of the cultural and historical heritage along the Danube within the framework of DANUrB+ project with the support of the Danube Regional Program INTERREG of the EU. BlueLink then signed a joint work plan with the mayors of Gulyantsi, Nikopol and Belene municipalities.



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