Experience €105 000 is required. Introduction This

Experience Bulgaria

and culinary tourism in the heart of Stara Planina (The Central Balkan
National Park)

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– English 4
– Suzanne Vollenbronck





Table of contents

Executive summary



Food Tourism and

Slow Tourism

Market Gap

Target Group







Appendix A













Executive summary

ExperienceBulgaria is a start-up company focused in the field of food tourism as well
as slow tourism. By bringing together travelers with locals in the light of
sharing a traditional meal, meaningful connection can be formed. The concept
includes elements such as wine trails, the experience of Bulgarian culture
through food as well as yoga, meditation and the visit of significant sites in
the heart of Stara Planina. To avoid initial limitations, for instance language
barrier, and the promotion aspect, an investment of €105 000 is required.


This proposal aims at informing BTV
consultants about the business idea ExperienceBulgaria
– Slow and Culinary tourism in the heart of Stara Planina (the Old Mountain)
to receive an advice from BTV on how to proceed further. The concept is to
create a memorable experience through traditional Bulgarian cuisine and the
unspoiled nature of Stara Planina. What is more, the product will bring
together travelers and local farmers and producers as well as it will remind
people that nature is the ultimate cure. For writing this report, desk research
about the current trends in tourism was conducted and millennials were as a
target group.

Experience Bulgaria

ExperienceBulgaria is a start-up company, founded by me Iren Manolova with the
intention of popularizing Bulgaria as a destination, not through party and
alcohol tourism in Sunny Beach but as a place with traditional cuisine made its
way through generations, rich history and nature. ExperienceBulgaria will operate in the area of food tourism due to
its rapidly increasing popularity. Aspects of slow tourism will also be touched
as we want to encourage our clients to return to nature.

Before starting my
business, I followed the programme International Tourism management in NHTV University
of Applied Sciences in Breda, The Netherlands. While working professionally in
the hospitality field, I acquired the skills of managing and inspiring the team
to deliver the best service possible which resulted in 15% increase of guests’

Food Tourism and Trends

According to the World Food Travel Association food tourism is “The pursuit and enjoyment of
unique and memorable food and drink experiences, both far and near.”
(WFTA, n.d) Research from 2016 Food
Travel Monitor shows that 93% of all travelers can now be considered food
travelers, people who have participated in a food related activity such as food
tours, a visit to a unique restaurant, bakery or winery, etc. (WFTA, n.d.) This
leads to the classification of food tourism into sectors, for example cheese-,
oil-, chocolate-, or wine – tourism. These segments are often connected through
a ‘culinary route’: tasting different foods while experience the region.
(UNWTO, 2012)

As the popularity
of food tourism is rapidly growing (UNWTO, 2012), the number of new product
development is increasing. Four trends within the industry will keep shaping
its’ nature in the upcoming years: the rise of the so called ‘foodie’ social
media accounts, meal sharing, beverage trails and culinary storytelling (Covington Travel, 2016).  The ‘foodie’ trend is connected to the
sharing of one’s experience through food pictures shared on social media
channels, such as Instagram. Meal sharing let people engage in a more personal
way, where the are connection not only between travelers but also amongst
tourists and inhabitants and chefs for exchanging knowledge and experience. Beverage
tourism is referred to as alcohol tourism such as wine or beer-tourism, or, for
instance, coffee trails, which follow the story of coffee. Finally, culinary
storytelling provides travelers with the opportunity to experience local
culture through food, by sharing its’ history and its’ connection to the
destination. (Covington Travel, 2016)

Slow Tourism

In its’ essence slow
tourism is a state of mind, where the traveller makes conscious choices. It is
often connected to travelling at a slower pace and returning to the nature. The
traveller engages in meaningful connections with other travellers and locals. (Gardner, 2009) ExperienceBulgaria focuses on the nature and the interpersonal
relationships.  The company aims at
bringing people closer to wildlife, through vising significant landscapes and
walks in the mountain, where the traveler will be able to forget about the
stressful reality and to experience the moment.

Market gap

Bulgaria is a country
where the tourism industry mainly focuses on alcohol and party tourism during
the summer, for example in Sunny Beach and ski tourism throughout winter in Bansko or Borovetz. This leads to the phenomenon called
seasonality where a specific type of tourism is only available for one season
each year.  Seasonality in Bulgaria is a
significant problem for tourism as there are areas only used during the short
active season, leading to increasing number of tourists every season which
highly exceeds the destination’s carrying capacity. The never-ending
development of new tourists’ accommodations and attractions results in unusable
facilities outside high-season, excessive pollution endangering the natural
flora and the marine life, and the disappearing of local people, who are
leaving the tourist area. (“Tourism in an industry”, 2012) Therefore, ExperienceBulgaria would like to develop
a product that will be sustainable, authentic and real, available throughout
the whole year and responsible.


Target group

For ExperienceBulgaria
clients are the very heart of its business activities, aiming to provide
experiences tailored to the specific needs and desires of the individuals. The organization
ensures the authenticity of the destinations visited as well as the
sustainability of the trip, which are weighty factors to millennials.  (Forbes,2017) Therefore the chosen target
group are millennials. Further reasons for this choice are the following: 86% of
all millennials have stated that the experience of new cultures is important
and 78% would like to learn something new while travelling. (Andreson, n.d) What is more, for 67% of them,
spending money on local food as part of authentic holiday. (Forbes, 2016) Finally,
millennials are seeking responsible tourism that caters for the residents and
minimalizes the negative impacts on the local economy and environment. However,
personalization of the trip is a requirement that the 18-35-year-old seek to
fulfill. (Bukley, J., 2018)


Experience Bulgaria is focusing on creating
a product that will complete the above-mentioned gap. The product will be
available all year long which a decision to battle the negative effect of
seasonality. Furthermore, the tourism product will be located in Stara Planina
(The Central Balkan National Park), which provides the business with the
perfect opportunity to create a sustainable and authentic experience for every
client. Because of the mountain’s historical and cultural significance for
Bulgaria, traveler will be able to experience firsthand traditional culture,
cuisine and beverages. Moreover, Stara Planina is a home to a numerous UNESCO
sites and according to the UNESCO organization: ”the Park protects pristine habitats of rare and
endangered wildlife species and communities, self-regulating ecosystems of
exceptional biological diversity and natural beauty, which are of global
scientific and conservation significance.” (UNESCO, 2011) The area also offers
a variety of wineries and local farm, which ExperienceBulgaria
would like to work with.

The travellers will be
staying at small local hotels, farms and wineries where they will be able to
learn more about the history of the region, the agricultural process and the
wine-making process. Furthermore, there will be organized culinary workshops as
well as demonstrations in which the clients could choose to participate.
Because the company also emphases on the slow tourism, there will be yoga
classes, meditation classes and walks though the nature planned. Tourists will
be able to create meaningful relationships with each other and with locals
which will contribute to the authenticity of the experience.

Through this product,
not only the travellers will benefit, but also locals will be actively involved
in the process. ExperienceBulgaria
will support local business and will hire and train inhabitants, thus
contributing to the creation of one’s authentic, sustainable and enlightening
experience.  The sustainability of nature
will also be a top priority for the company, aiming at reducing waste and
pollution by informing tourists and staff about the environmental impacts of
tourism and donations will be made to organisations tackling the problem. As a
result, the area will be protected and sustained throughout the years.


To reach the target group – millennials, ExperienceBulgaria should invest in
effective online marketing strategy as it has been researched that 66% of all
millennials book their trip via smart phone and 97% of them use social media
while travelling. (Andreson, n.d) The most important social media channels for ExperienceBulgaria are Facebook, Trip
Advisor and Instagram and active advertisement on these channels is vital.

An initial investment of €105 000, covering
marketing, training, personnel costs, etc. is needed to ensure the smooth
launch of the business. A table with a breakdown for the investment is provided
in Appendix A.



Before launching the product, possible
limitations need considering. First is the already established image of
Bulgaria amongst European countries – cheap alcohol and crimes. This could be
devastating for ExperienceBugaria as the
business would like to change the direction of Bulgarian tourism and focus the
attention onto the more conscious part of tourism. Moving forward, the language
barrier can be a significant difficulty as not all inhabitants will be
accustomed to catering to travelers without proper English-language training.
Finally, ExperienceBulgaria is aware that the safety standards and security
might not be at the same level as some European cities, which is why all
restaurants, farms and accommodations should be properly certified.


ExperienceBulgaria aims to become a market leader in food and slow tourism in Bulgaria
by offering products that will bring mindful people with passion for new
cultures and memorable experiences together with locals. The concept of the
company is to use the one thing millennials use the most – social media to
offer them what they are most interested in – conscious travelling, new
cultures and food in a sustainable and authentic manner. As a result, ExperienceBulgaria will overcome the
seasonality issue in Bulgaria and will promote the destination not as alcohol
or ski tourism but rather as a place with rich culture, tradition and cuisine
where travelers can slow the pace of life and find themselves. To launch the business
and avoid the initial limitations discussed an investment of €105 000 would be

Final recommendation

As mentioned previously in this proposal, for
ExperienceBulgaria personal attention
to every client is a necessity. To secure the strong relationship between the
company and the travelers, a website should be launched where clients are able
to inform themselves about the product offered. Furthermore, a blog where
tourists can share their experience with others should also be part of the
website as it will add value to the service. Moving forward, all businesses
that work together with ExperienceBulgaria
should be properly certifies to reach the expectations of the client. Finally,
since the language barriers is a real limitation, future local employees should
be provided with language courses. With this mentioned, ExperienceBulgaria should be able to reach its’ goal as well as
fulfill its’ mission.












Anderson, L. (n.d). 4 insights on millennial travel behavior. LSB Blog. Retrieved on
January 14,2018 from http://www.lsb.com/4-insights-on-millennial-travel-behavior/

Buckley, J. (January 8,2018). Travel trends to watch in 2018. From
millennial package holidays to responsible travel. Independent. Retrieved
January 17,2018 from http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/travel-trends-2018-where-to-go-millennials-package-holidays-responsible-tourism-kuellap-turkey-a8147736.html

J. (November 26, 2017). Why Millennials Are The Most Important Consumer
Generation For The Travel Industry. Forbes.
Retrieved January 14,2018 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jefffromm/2017/11/08/why-millennials-are-the-most-important-consumer-generation-for-the-travel-industry/#63af57cde1f1

Gardner,N. (2009). A manifesto for slow travel. HiddenEurope. Retrieved January
14,2018 from https://www.hiddeneurope.co.uk/a-manifesto-for-slow-travel

Tourism is an industry (May 7,2012) ????????? ?? ??????? ?? ???????????
?????????? Seasonality of tourism on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.
Retrieved January14,2018 from http://gradat.bg/bgprojects/2012/05/07/1821820_sezonnost_na_turizma_po_bulgarskoto_chernomorie/?ref=miniurl

Travel Maestro. (June 21, 2016). 4 Trends in Food Tourism That Will Make You
Want to Travel Now. Covington Travel. Retrieved January 14,2018 from https://www.covingtontravel.com/2016/06/4-trends-food-tourism/

UNESCO. (October10, 2011). Central Balkan National park. Retrieved
January14,2018 from http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5641/

World Food Travel Association. (n.d). What is food tourism?. Retrieved January
14,2018 from https://www.worldfoodtravel.org/cpages/what-is-food-tourism

World Tourism Organization. (2012). Global Report on Food Tourism. UNWTO,
Madrid. Retrieved January 14, 2018 from http://cf.cdn.unwto.org/sites/all/files/pdf/global_report_on_food_tourism.pdf








Appendix A

Initial investment of €105 000
is needed to launch the business. The breakdown for the investment is as
follows: for
promotion the costs have been calculated to €35 000 for the first year and
between €10 000 and €15 000 for the following years. Furthermore, a resource of
€20 000 will be needed for training locals and another €40 000 for personnel
costs. Finally, ExperienceBulgaria
would like to donate €10 000 every year to local businesses and organisations.







Personnel costs





€105 000