Sofia has huge potential for development of Spa tourism
Perhaps you would be surprised to learn that for every pain or health problem you can find a suitable healing mineral spring in Bulgaria. There are over 500 mineral springs in this country with a total flow of nearly 5,000 liters of water per second, which places Bulgaria second in Europe after Iceland in natural mineral water and natural-source spring water resources. The mineral waters in Bulgaria have healing properties and this fact has been known across the Bulgarian lands for centuries. Many Bulgarian towns emerged near mineral springs such as Hisarya, Sandanski, Velingrad, Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, etc. Such natural resources should not be underestimated. That is why it is of great importance for Sofia to have a vision how to use these natural resources and develop SPA tourism. This type of tourism will provide an opportunity for a full-time hotel occupancy in Sofia.
In our view, SPA and balneology tourism have biggest growth potential, Deputy Mayor of Sofia Municipality Todor Chobanov said during the 6th annual Congress of the Bulgarian Union of Balneology and Spa Tourism. It is extremely important for our city, because Sofia is rich in natural resources. There are 8 different types of mineral waters with different temperature ranging between 30 and 90 C. This city has the potential to absorb geothermal energy. However, we need to make systematic efforts, in order to achieve the desired results. That is why the Sofia Municipal Council has approved a strategy for development of Sofia as tourist destination and a separate strategy for utilization of the mineral waters in the city. A mapping of nearly 120 mineral springs was made on the territory of the Sofia Municipality and its suburbs, apart from the eight popular mineral springs. In other words, utilization of these natural resources is still very low. We believe that there are 35 locations in the city where hydrothermal centers with different water characteristics and different categories can be built. We should not forget that most of these places are connected with the rich cultural heritage of the city. In Sofia we are witnessing an extremely rare combination of mineral springs and cultural landmarks which allows us to offer a very complex product.
Todor Chobanov announced an interesting statistics, which shows that 45% of the guests visit Sofia for the purpose of cultural tourism, which makes the local authorities to create different attractions in this field with the clear awareness that it is the most important sector of the urban tourism industry. Data of the survey also show that 23% of the visits are for the purposes of business and congress tourism and 20% of the visits are for the purposes of the youth and city break tourism.
A historical agreement achieved as a result of the join work between the Germany-Bulgaria Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Bulgarian Union on Balneology and SPA Tourism, the Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism and the Bulgarian Ministry of Health, was announced during the congress. It will allow German citizens who paid their health contributions to one of the health insurance funds that are members of the union of health insurance funds in Germany, to receive spa and balneology treatment in Bulgaria and pay only 10% of the price of the treatment. The rest of the amount will be paid by their health insurance fund. The purpose of this agreement is to increase the number of German tourists who visit Bulgaria for balneology and spa purposes by 2022.
The Bulgarian authorities has the task to undertake the next marketing steps aimed at promoting Bulgaria as year-round destination for spa and balneology tourism, Mitko Vasilev, Chief Executive of Germany-Bulgaria Chamber of Industry and Commerce told Radio Bulgaria. However, it requires financial resource and will not happen by itself. Currently, Bulgaria is popular in Germany as destination for summer and winter tourism, but not as year-round tourist destination. Few Germans probably know that there are nearly 500 mineral springs in Bulgaria and this country is second after Iceland in natural mineral water and spring water resources. We need to promote this with a lot of efforts, events and advertisement.
English version: Kostadin Atanasov
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