Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria


The Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria expresses the desire of the signatory stakeholders involved in the development of tourism and sustainable development in Bulgaria to unite around the guiding principles set out in the Charter and to undertake a personal and institutional commitment to implement and follow them in their actions.

The charter has the character of a code of ethics for the participants and is open for accession to all interested parties - local authorities, institutions, business representatives and civil society.

The original initiative for the Charter dates back to 2013, when the initial version was developed within the framework of the Public Council of the Minister of Environment and Water. The current text of the Charter was developed during the period from August 2023 to March 2024, with the participation of MPs, experts from the Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW), Ministry of Tourism (MoT), as well as representatives of the Bulgarian Tourist Union, Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism, Odyssey Inn, Institute for Analysis and Forecasting of the Information Environment in Tourism (IAFIET), Association of Parks and BlueLink Foundation. In February 2024, the above listed parties, as well as the National Tourism Board and the Bulgarian Tourist Chamber, discussed in detail the text of the Charter at a round table held jointly by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Tourism. The Charter was officially signed on 02.04.2024 at the MoEW.

The Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria is open for accession by public and private institutions, local authorities, businesses and non-profit organizations that commit to cooperate for its effective implementation.

Inclusion as a signatory to the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria takes place through an application for accession in which a representative of the relevant stakeholder declares in writing their support for the Charter and commits to implement and respect its principles. The application should be sent by the legal representative of the relevant stakeholder to harta [dot] tourism [at] moew [dot] government [dot] bg

Every new Charter signatory may explicitly declare their willingness to participate in its maintenance and promotion.

Full text of the Charter

We, the signatories of this Charter, representatives of state institutions, local authorities, business companies, NGOs and other legal entities involved in the process of tourism development and preservation of the Bulgarian natural, cultural and historical heritage, unite around the following

Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria

By signing the Charter, we declare that we will be guided in our activities and in the implementation of international, national, regional and local policies, by the principles set out therein.

This Charter is a response and support to:
● European, national, regional and local initiatives and community efforts for sustainable development in the fields of tourism, environment and climate protection,
● The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,
● The European Biodiversity Strategy 2030,
● A transition roadmap for tourism according to the report "A transition roadmap for tourism",
● The EU Multiannual Work Plan on the European Agenda for Tourism 2030, and the
● The UN World Tourism Organisation's Global Code of Ethics,
● Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism and
● Memorandum on Sustainable Development of Bulgarian Tourism through the Preservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage.

For us, the development of tourism in a sustainable and nature-friendly way is among Bulgaria's priorities, in line with the main objective set out in the National Strategy for Sustainable Tourism Development in the Republic of Bulgaria for the period up to 2030.

In parallel with the benefits of tourism for the various stakeholders - business, NGOs, structures, local communities, municipal, regional and other state institutions, etc., our main task is to ensure thoughtful and consistent planning of its development. It should be based on:

● sustainable and responsible use of resources;
● minimisation of pressure on nature and the anthropogenic environment resulting from tourism development, based on Bulgarian and European legislation;
● minimising impacts leading to climate change and adaptation to climate change;
● controlling pollution related to the use of single-use plastic products, which should become an essential part of the policy in the hotel, restaurant, event tourism and tourism-related service and food industry sectors, also adapting the legal framework;
● Comprehensive integration of tourism in the planning and sustainable development strategy of the Republic of Moldova. Bulgaria, including long-term strategic planning and monitoring and assessment of environmental impacts.

Our vision is to turn Bulgaria into a desirable year-round sustainable tourism destination, preserving and using its natural and cultural heritage in a responsible way, with maximum benefit to the host local communities and destinations. Delivering our vision includes:

● Establishing Bulgaria as a tourist destination with a distinctive identity based on preserved, authentic and socialised natural and cultural-historical sites;
● Sustainable development of the regions through the wise use of resources and the development of a modern and nature-friendly tourist infrastructure;
● Achieving a high level of sensitivity to the conservation and use of natural and cultural heritage and the benefit to local communities,;
● Developing and offering a high quality and attractive tourism product;
● Significantly improve accessibility to destinations by rail or other public transport.

Our Mission:
We are committed to aligning our activities with the legal requirements and principles of Bulgarian, European legislation in our tourism development activities, nature conservation and promotion of natural and cultural 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 tourism product.

We commit to implementing the following fundamental principles of the Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Bulgaria:

● The principle of shared values
The signatories to this Charter share and support the vision, mission and principles of the document.

● Principle of timely involvement of citizens and stakeholders
The signatories to this Charter commit to ensure equal opportunities and effective mechanisms for informing and actively involving citizens and all stakeholders in the planning and implementation of their actions regarding the tourism product.

● Principle of planning for sustainable development
The signatories to this Charter are united in their decision to analyse and plan their activities in the field of tourism development and promotion of Bulgaria's natural and cultural heritage in the long term, respecting the principles of sustainable development.

● Principle of an integrated approach and protection of the public interest
The Parties to the Charter support and commit to work towards an equitable distribution of commitments. They agree to apply a cross-sectoral, integrated approach, to promote public-private partnerships in the field of tourism, to create an environment and mechanisms to ensure the implementation of functioning management and control systems for key environmental elements, and to ensure the priority of public over private investor interest.

● Principle of expert informed choice
Charter supporters commit to plan and/or implement tourism development activities and policies based on sufficient scientific information and expertise on issues affecting natural and cultural heritage, including protected areas and sites.

● Principle of growth for local communities
The signatories to the Charter shall promote and support the growth and development of tourism areas for the enhanced well-being of local communities and the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises in them.

● High added value principle
Charter signatories work to promote economic growth based on high value-added solutions for the local economy, nature and community.

● Principle of conservation
Protected areas and sites are one of Bulgaria's greatest assets. The signatories to the Charter commit to develop tourism activities by ensuring, as a minimum, strict compliance with the regimes established through the laws for the protection of natural and cultural areas and sites, designation orders, management plans and other applicable legal requirements and regulations for this purpose.

● Principle of nature-friendly and digital accessibility
Signatories to the Charter shall promote accessibility to tourism sites by environmentally friendly rail, electric or other public transport. Charter signatories shall promote and ensure internet connectivity and easy access for users to the tourism product through massively accessible technologies and applications, without these becoming a constraint or barrier.

● Zero Impact Principle
Under this principle, Charter signatories shall put in place and implement systems to avoid, reduce and sustainably collect, recycle and reprocess waste, reduce noise and other adverse environmental and climate impacts, from the tourism product, in accordance with environmental legislation and green innovation in tourism.

● Good practice principle
Signatories to the Charter commit to share, exchange and implement best practices that meet the highest international standards, scientific advances and research in sustainable tourism.

Sofia, 02.04.2024

Julian Popov
Minister for Environment and Water

Irena Georgieva
Deputy Minister for Tourism

Georgi Nikolov
Chairperson of the Board, Bulgarian Tourist Chamber

Dr. Desislava Alexova
Authorized representative of the Association of Parks in Bulgaria

Associate Professor Dimcho Todorov
Chairperson, Bulgarian Association of Tourism Experts

Pavel Antonov, PhD
Executive Editor, BlueLink Foundation

Associate Professor Rumen Draganov
Director, IAFIET at UniBIT