THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA VISITS THE SAVE CENTER IN MOMCHILOVCI
On 21 October 2010 Mr. Georgi Parvanov, President of Republic of Bulgaria visited the SAVE / GEO Tourism Center in Momchilovci, Smolyan Municipality. 25/10/2010 :: In his interview for Channel 1 of the Bulgarian National Television from Momchilovci the President expressed his gratitude to the Government of Norway for the support to such an important and innovative initiative undertaken by the Bulgarian Heritage National Association and hosted by the Municipality of Smolyan. He focused on the crucial role of this initiative for the development of sustainable tourism and economic growth in this wide cross-border region of the country. It is expected to contribute also to the diversification of the country’s tourism portfolio and image. The SAVE / GEO Tourism Center is established as a partnership between Bulgarian Heritage National Association, Smolyan Municipality and the Western Norway Research Institute. The mission of the SAVE Center is to enable the destination to create tourism products that service the SAVE travel market and to link those products to their respective markets. The portfolio of its products consists of Scientific, Academic, Volunteer and Educational programs designed for visitors of all ages from Bulgaria and abroad. The establishment and operation of the SAVE Center is based on three main principles: financial viability and independence, adherence to the principles of geotourism, and advancement of knowledge. Geotourism is more than sustainable tourism and is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place - its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents. Geotourism adds to sustainability principles by building on a destination's geographical character, its "sense of place," to emphasize the distinctiveness of its locale and benefit visitors and residents alike. The building of the old school of Momchilovci is being reconstructed and renovated to become the home of the SAVE Tourism Center. The full set of strategic documents for the functioning of the Center was already developed in a collaborative process between experts and all stakeholders – a Concept paper, a Business plan, a Pilot SAVE Travel Products portfolio assessment .The latter was developed by a joint Bulgarian – Norwegian academic experts team of professors and students. Exchange of visits was conducted between Bulgarian and Norwegian partners. During this final stage of the project implementation, the marketing plan for three pilot SAVE Tourism products is being developed and implemented. The first visitors to the SAVE center are expected already from the summer of 2011.