Notwithstanding the challenges of the difficult 2019, we expect good results also in the winter season thanks to our joint efforts. This was stated by the Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova at the traditional working meeting in Bansko with representatives of the control and the local authorities, and the tourist industry on the degree of preparedness for the new winter 2019/2020 season, BGNES reported.
Angelkova recalled that despite the negative campaign at the beginning of the year, over the period from January to September 2019 inclusive there were more than 7.8 million visits of foreign tourists in the country and that the drop in numbers compared to the record-high year of 2018 is only 0.8 percent.
Bookings for the winter season indicate that around 60 percent of international tourists will come from neighboring countries, and we are expecting an increase from some of the leading markets. The estimated increase in the coming winter season is 17% from the UK, 7% from Germany 16% from Hungary and more.
Angelkova emphasized that Bansko, known as a competitive ski center and a venue for great competitions in snow sports, is becoming increasingly categorized as a year-round resort. Thanks to the initiative of the municipality and the business, more than 77 thousand people stayed overnight in accommodation establishments in the municipality this summer, with an increase of over 8% over the same period of 2018. It is very important that we expand the Naturally in Bulgaria Inner Tourism promotion campaign to upgrade it and attract more Bulgarian tourists to the region, she said.
The agency will continue to work to reduce administrative burdens to encourage business. The amendments to the Law on Tourism are in this direction, and among them the main emphasis is the status of national resorts, as well as the activity of ski teachers in order to regulate their profession, it became clear from the Minister.
She elaborated on the importance of the Unified Tourist Information System (ETI) and urged those who had not yet registered with it to do so in order to avoid sanctions and termination of the site. Minister Angelkova predicts that Bansko may be among the leaders in this registration. Over 990 accommodation units in the municipality are already registered in the system and have active profiles, with another 120 expected to join in the days. The law must be respected by all and registration is mandatory, the minister was adamant.
With regard to the new winter season, she stressed the importance of having all control bodies in place. The Interior Ministry has already confirmed that there will again be joint teams with Romanian and Greek police officers to monitor public order and tourist safety. The CPC and the RHI are also fully operational, including with mobile teams. Together with the CPC experts, we will start checking the accommodation facilities and the ski slopes within days, according to the specialized ordinance on their safety and information security.
Bansko actively participates in all initiatives of the Ministry for the promotion of cultural, historical, balneological and SPA and wine and culinary destinations. We have made a major breakthrough in our partnership with the German Health Funds, the minister said. The Bulgarian business will be able to welcome German insured people in its premises, including 26 private hotels, which are listed and meet the requirements, and their inclusion is absolutely free.
Bansko Municipality also has a very good position in the wine and culinary destinations and receives assistance from the Ministry of Tourism for its promotion. In conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, meetings were held with distinguished bosses and international experts to outline steps and action plans so that children can learn in these traditions at school. In this way we will be able to promote the quality Bulgarian cuisine even more successfully. Next year, an international meeting will be held next year on the topic with members of the world professional culinary associations, in order to get support for promoting Bulgaria at various exhibitions, including at Green Week in Berlin, etc., Minister Angelkova summarized.