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Eco Tourism

Tourism that needn’t cost the earth: examining Bulgaria’s growing eco tourist market. Bulgaria’s perfect geographical location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia Minor offers visitors a country rich in wildlife and nature. Rare fauna and flora uncommon and sometimes non-existent in other European countries flourish here.

Ancient forests provide homes to deer, elk, fox, wild goat and boars. Lush valleys thrive on the temperate Balkan climate, which provides the landscape with a stunning display of wild flowers.



Eco tourism, a fast growing sector of the tourist industry offers visitors with a conscience for conservation and the environment the opportunity to enjoy a fulfilling holiday experience whilst reducing their carbon footprint. Whilst many tourists associate the word “eco” with green issues this emerging tourism market allows a holiday experience with environmental benefits and it would appear that in this sector Bulgaria has successfully combined traditional tourism with its natural assets.

Over the last five years eco tourism has increased thanks to a number of local and regional initiatives designed to promote the country’s nature conservation programs, local traditions and culture. Bulgaria is the first European country to develop and implement a National Biological Diversity Conservation Strategy (NBDCS) alongside a National Eco Tourism Strategy and Action Plan (NETSAP).



Such initiatives have given Bulgaria an added competitive advantage in this growing sector and the country now has the chance to become the European market leader in this emerging field. Eco tourism contributes to biodiversity conservation, sustains the well-being of the local population and promotes responsible actions on the part of tourists and the tourism industry.



In the last ten years, this new style of vacation has increased its share of world tourism. Year on year, visitors are becoming increasingly aware of their impact on the world. They now demand cleaner and more environmentally forms of transport, and they want to enjoy all the benefits of travel without impacting our fragile planet.

It is believed that, although still in its infancy, eco tourism accounts for one tenth of world tourist revenue. Its not just the landscape and natural resources that are responsible for this new trend in holidaymaking, hotels are also able to make their own contribution to attract this form of tourist revenue too.

Bulgaria has a strong opportunity to develop further still as a centre for eco-tourists thanks to the many natural landmarks and interesting sights gifted to this particular area of the Balkans. Unlike many of its EU counterparts, Bulgaria does not have the environmentally damaging industrial landscape and excessive urban development.

Eco tourism is predominantly developed in places, whose nature is unaffected by industrialisation and civilisation and Bulgaria boasts many untouched areas of natural beauty and wonder like the breathtaking Rila, Pirin, Balkan and Rhodope Mountain ranges. The development in tourism in these areas has lead to many inaccessible and panoramic areas being opened up by means of eco trails allowing visitors to take in the stunning landscapes and participate in activities such as bird watching, climbing, rafting and trekking.




A host of small, eco-friendly hotels have opened to accommodate the growth in this area, with each hotel offering a green environment free of pollution, unnecessary waste and litter. Such consciousness comes at a price and is one of the reasons why larger hotel chains have not stepped onto the eco bandwagon. However, this may soon change, the Environment and Water Affairs Ministry in conjunction with the National Tourist Board are collaborating on a system designed to evaluate a hotel’s environmental efficiency and issue ecological certificates to those who conform.


Environment Minister Djevdet Chakurov announced that hotels throughout the country would be evaluated and those venues, which introduce selective waste collection systems and use energy and water saving technologies will qualify for the certificate. Additional points would be given for environmental protection initiatives. Moreover, the Bulgarian government is also planning to invest money into environmental protection projects including the setting up of water purifying stations near the beach resorts and new drainage systems. They also plan to turn eco paths into key tourism destinations.


Eco friendly holidays allow hassled executives to escape from weeks of hard work and the hustle and bustle of city life and indulge in the silence of awe-inspiring, natural areas and the wonders of each season.


Anna from Leicester decided that she wanted to experience the culture, traditions and nature of eco-friendly Bulgaria and set off for the miraculous peaks of the Balkan range. She travelled to Tryavna, a picturesque town in the middle of the mountains, 20 km from the delightful town of Gabrovo. This area provides a diverse geographical relief from mountain peaks to river valleys; hills covered with oak and beech forests to huge gorges. It enjoys a moderate and healthy climate, the mountain spring water is both drinkable and refreshing and the town is surrounded by lush vegetation.


Anna tells of her first impression, “First of all I was bowled over by all of the fountains, which lined the streets as well as all of the historical and cultural landmarks. All of the Renaissance buildings in the town have been beautifully preserved and flowers hang from the balconies, it is a mesmerising experience.”

Anna spent much of her vacation exploring the area’s natural surroundings and took many walks through the forests and wide green meadows. Tryavna is also a great place to see the traditional industries at work using time-old production methods to make furniture and textiles. The eclectic mix of old and new standing proudly side-by-side left Anna with the impression that time had stopped in some way.

She felt totally relaxed and de-stressed, she recalls, “What I realised after my visit here is that people have put a lot of thought into this town and its surrounding areas- they have built without disturbing nature’s harmony. This is one of the best holidays I have ever taken and I hope to visit again.”


Eco tourist destinations appeal to their visitors all year round, the changing of the seasons brings something new and exciting to explore and discover, so if you are looking for an alternative way to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of this fantastic country then an eco holiday in one of Bulgaria’s eco-friendly hotels could be the answer – why not give it a try?