Rethink the regional structure and enhance co-ordination
It will be important to strengthen capability of the administrative structure for tourism at the regional level and for the tourism sector to adopt the EU NUTS spatial planning system of 6 regions with a strong regional tourism agency in each region. These agencies should have marketing and economic development powers to facilitate and co-ordinate tourism in the regions, to aggressively attract inward investment using approaches such as tourism investment portfolios and demonstration projects, and co-ordinate bids for EU funding.
Develop appropriate structure and co-ordination
Clearly identify a strong central governmental structure, responsible for providing a tourism development strategy and able to allocate the necessary resources. Formal communication mechanisms should be put in place at national level to ensure that tourism receives attention in the key national agencies such as education, environment and transport. In many countries a co-ordinating tourism committee acts in this role.
The forthcoming tourism strategy should contain a mechanism for vertical co-ordination between the municipalities, the regions and the national government, as a well as formal communication channels between the national government and the tourist associations.
Clear responsibility should be established at each level of government for engagement with the EU mechanisms for funding.
Promote a more contemporary policy focus and approach to policy formation
Policy formation in Bulgaria should be more collaborative and inclusive and involve all key stakeholders in a transparent manner and reducing the top-down mechanism. The policy focus should be more reflective of contemporary international good practice (in terms of transparency, inclusiveness, consultation and communication) and in particular for diversification, should encourage the development of SME clusters based on both products and destinations, learning destinations based upon co-operation and mutual benefit, and support for product development and innovation in tourism.
This can be achieved through public funding for, and facilitation of, clusters and innovation. A more general policy focus that recognises the need for the Bulgarian tourism sector to meet international competitive standards. This would include support in the areas of education and training, technology, marketing and branding, market intelligence/research and transparent investment in tourism development at the local level.
Foster capacity building
There is an urgent need for capacity building in both sectors for tourism.
In the public sector there is a need for capacity building in (i) the basic understanding of how tourism works and the contemporary challenges faced by the sector, (ii) the basics of destination development and the role of and support needed by SMEs and entrepreneurs if they are to flourish, (iii) languages, and (iv) the workings of the EU and how to craft bids.
In the private sector, there is an urgent need for capacity building in (i) service delivery, (ii) technology, and (iii) languages.
International Learning Model