Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism

baat-logoThe Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism (BAAT) was established on in 1998 as a national tourist non-government organization. At present BAAT has more than 95 members: non-government organizations and regional associations in the field of tourism, including the Bulgarian hotelier and restaurant association and a number of NGOs, some of which integrating owners of B&B establishments in rural areas, local tourist councils, incoming tour operating companies, hoteliers, guesthouses, producers of traditional Bulgarian food and products, nature parks, and individuals with business interests in alternative tourism. It is the most progressive public association in the field of tourism in the country.

Folklore Group in Orehovo

Folklore Group in Orehovo

BAAT participates in the most important events and initiatives related to tourism, regional development and ecology.  The association is a member of the National Tourist Council and the Council for Education in Tourism.

  • Creating the Quality Standards Chart “Bulgarski Dom” (“Bulgarian Inn”) that established consistent guidelines for accommodation in guesthouses, family hotels and other B&B establishments (1998); conducting training courses that help providers raise and maintain quality.
  • Founded a project for rural tourism and sustainable development in Strandja Mountains (1998), in co-operation with the Bourgas Association for regional development and Association “Mountains and People”;
  • Initiated the project “The Rhodope craftsman trail” for sustainable development in the Rhodope Mountains. In May 2001 an association with the same name was established;
  • Made a research and completed a database with 99 addresses of guest houses, family hotels and monasteries, situated in mountain and rural areas on a French project with the participation of two French volunteers (2001);
  • With other French volunteers a selection was made among 30 Bulgarian monasteries for the most convenient places for accommodation and receiving tourists and a brochure was published (2002).
  • Participated in the organisation of an international campus for studying the Balkan architecture with participants from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Turkey and Greece (September, 2002) as a project of the French organization GEC.
  • Worked with Bulgarian-Suisse Biodiversity Program for creating a new Plan for management of Pirin National Park (2002);
  • Participated as a partner with the Agency for regional and economic development, Vratza
    on a PHARE Programme project in the field of tourism for cross-border collaboration with Romania (2005, 2006);
  • Won and implement a project under VEGABTD Programme for “Research of the needs and consulting of SME’s in alternative tourism in Bulgaria” (2005).
  • Cooperated in a project “Authentic Bulgaria”, for certifying accommodation places representing authentic Bulgarian architecture and hospitality, within Vega-BTD Program (2006);
  • Applied with a project in the sphere of tourism in cooperation with the Agency for regional and economic development – Vratsa before Phare International Cooperation (2006);
  • Participated in a project of Glavinitsa Municipality for popularization of Malopreslavsko swamp (2007).
Bulgarian Crafts

Bulgarian Crafts

Since 1998 BAAT has been working on:

Since its creation in 1998, BAAT has played a vital role in providing training:

  • Held 8 training courses in co-operation with Association “Tetraktys” (France) during a 3-year project, financed by the French Ministry of Exterior Affairs and the Ministry of Trade & Tourism (1999-2000);
  • Completed training courses on “introducing the profession of a mountain guide” for the regions of Karlovo and Chiprovtzi (2001-2002) which have very high unemployment rate – a project of Beautiful Bulgaria 3 Program.
  • Created training system for mountain guides and realized 2 training courses in Bankso and Ribaritza for representatives of the national and natural reserves – a project financed by the Bulgarian- Suisse Biodiversity Program (2002); The project was selected to present Bulgaria’s NGOs activities on Rio+10 World conference on sustainable development (Johannesburg, September 2002);
  • Organiseed 15-day on route seminar for providers of rural and eco-tourism services with lecturer Mr. Yoan Mansfeld (leading expert from Israel) in the mountain towns Vratza, Chiprovtzi, Elena, M. Tarnovo, Smolyan and Sofia;
  • Accomplished training for preparing a Tourism developing strategy for Batak Municipality (2005)
  • Implemented training on “How to create and establish alternative tourism quality. Best practices”, Samokov and Smolian (2005);
  • Organised experience exchange travel for guesthouse holders between Northwest region and Ezerovo and Mogilitsa (2005).
  • Organised two trainings for 26 attendants in the mountain for the area of Chudnite Mostove under a project financed by PHARE Eco tourism (2006);
  • Conducted a training dedicated to alternative tourism for 25 representatives from municipalities Rudozem and Nedelino with the partnership of Bulgarian Foundation “Biodiversity” and “Rhodope” project (2006);
  • Made a guide with descriptions of trekking routes for the region of “Wonder Bridges” and a small “Manual of the mountain guide” (2006)
  • Carried out trainings for hosts of guesthouses and family hotels in Dobrich, Gyrmen, Chiprovtsi, Berkovica, Belogrdchik, Chuprene, Gorno Damyanovo (2007).
Dishes from the Black Sea region

Dishes from the Black Sea region

In addition, BAAT has led the way in research and provided a much-needed consulting service:

  • Organised the first National round table on the problems of tourism in mountains and villages with French experts from government and non-government organizations (1999);
  • Completed the first SWOT analysis for Bulgarian alternative tourism, which was presented on numerous forums in Bulgaria and abroad (2001). Updated analysis was presented in 2004;
  • BAAT collaborated in the preparation of the National Eco-tourism Strategy (2002-2004);
  • Participated in the debates for the Tourism Law (1998,2001,2002,2003,2004), The Law for VAT (2000,2001), SAPARD Program, PHARE – Program “Culture Tourism” (EU pre-accessing programs);
  • Participated in a working group to prepare the standards for guest rooms and guest houses in the National Decree for categorising in tourism (2002).
  • Consulted the Ministry of Economy during the preparation process of a booklet about eco-tourism in Bulgaria (2002);
  • Consulted creation of an “Alternative Tourism development project” in Antonovo municipally and accomplished 2 trainings for starting small family business (2004);
  • Participated in generating “Developing tourism Strategy” and “Creating a tourism cluster” in Smolian municipally(2004);
  • Provided help for creating “Strategy for tourism development in Central Balkan National Park” (2004);
  • Witnessed the presentation of “Possibilities for financing regional growth projects trough tourism” Sofia (2004);
  • Took part in presenting the new “National plan for climate change” – Sofia (2004);
  • Consulted economic activities with the help of an international experienced American volunteer from VEGA International (2005);
  • Co-organized with the help of VEGA International a study trip to Ireland for BAAT members (2005).

Arguably BAAT’s greatest achievements have been the persistent promotion of tourism in and outside Bulgaria:

  • Printed so far four editions of “Guidebook of Bed & Breakfasts and Guesthouses in Bulgaria” (2003, 2004/2005, 2005, 2006);
  • Initiated and supported the printing of two series of 10 posters in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of environment and waters and Bulgarian-Suisse Biodiversity Program (2002);
  • Organized 6 promotion trips for representatives from the Bulgarian media and press, under the heading “The other Bulgaria”, which were completed in the period 2002 – 2004;
  • BAAT authored and edited materials about walking tours and national parks in Bulgaria in two guide books of Activity series (UK) – “Natural parks in Europe” and “Walking in Europe” (2000);
  • Gave input and supported the publication of an information booklet “The Monastery Route”, financed by the Ministry of Economy as a part of the National PR campaign;
  • Published different materials in leading press Media and specialized editions in the field of tourism in Bulgaria and abroad.
  • Edited 2 brochures for its activity (a run of 10 000) and calendars (1999 – 2007);
  • Represented its members on different national and international tourist fairs and events – “Vacation” – ’98 – ’04 SOFIA; “Nature, hunting, fishing and tourism” – ’99 -’02”- PLOVDIV, “ Tour-expo 2000-2004” VARNA, Philoxenia – Thessalonica;
  • Participated in the Rhodope Tourist Market and made a presentation on “International rural and ecotourism market –Where is Bulgaria”
  • Printed new advertising materials of the association – flyers, T-shirts, calendars. The folders are under construction (2004);
  • Our activities and experts opinion were quoted in 139 Bulgarian media – newspapers and magazines;
  • Presented the members on the 21st , 22nd , 23rd and 24th National Tourist Fair “Vacation 2004”, “Vacation 2005”, “Vacation 2006” and “Vacation 2007”;
  • Organized tour operators trip to Berkovitza with the aim of presenting the city and the new tourist services (2005);
  • Prepared guidebook with description of pedestrian routes for the area of Chudnite Mostove and a short “Handbook for the mountain guide” (2006);
  • Issued new advertising materials in English popularizing BAAT activities (2006);
  • Renovated the web site of BAAT with new vision and more information about alternative tourism and the association on baatbg.org (2007);
  • Presented BAAT’s members at the Bed & Breakfast expo 2007 in Brussels.

For more information on BAAT visit www.baatbg.org or telephone BAAT’s Secretariat – +359 (0)2 980 76 85.

БЪЛГАРСКА АСОЦИАЦИЯ ЗА АЛТЕРНАТИВЕН ТУРИЗЪМ – БААТ

София 1301, бул. “Ал. Стамболийски” 20 – В, партер (вход от ул “Лавеле”)

Тел: 02/980 76 85, Факс: 02/980 32 00

baat@spnet.net

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About Charlotte J

Graduate, journalist, blogger and follower of all things media.