Princess Dana Firas: My visit in Bulgaria is something special, the Bulgarian minister is dedicated to the cause of tourism

30 September 2019

Her Royal Highness emphasized during her master class in Sofia that sustainable development without preservation of the cultural heritage is not possible

”I am happy to be in Bulgaria because my visit here is special. There are a lot of similarities between our two countries but your tourism is developing much better.” These were the words of the Princess of Jordan Dana Firas who is on a visit in Bulgaria at the invitation of the Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova. Her Royal Highness warmly thanked the Bulgarian minister and called her a friend and source of inspiration because of her devotion to the cause.

Before the opening of her master class in Sofia, Dana Firas said that the essence of the cultural heritage was in what we were and it would help us learn more about the life of the people. “The past experience serves to show how economics developed, how the cultural traditions grew. Where there is beauty, the cultural heritage teaches us to value beauty. Sustainable development is not possible without preservation of the cultural heritage. The preservation of the balance is the way to sustainability,” pointed she. “According to UNESCO culture must be the measure of sustainable development. Nowadays there is a common consensus according to which the cultural development, the economic development and the environment are interdependent.”

The princess reminded about the importance of the sustainable development aims adopted in 2015 in which culture was mentioned only partially, but the cultural development had begun to turn into a serious factor in economics, education and equality. “None of our specific aims can exist without a cultural element, many countries did not recognize culture as a priority in the beginning; they considered it a luxury. This position must be changed,” was her firm position.

The Princess of Jordan emphasized on the role of tourism in these relations. “Why did the WTO indicate that 40 per cent of all tourist events have purely cultural motivation?” was her rhetorical question. “It is well regulated and holds an enormous potential. When we talk about tourism management, we actually talk about culture management. 1.3 billion people are travelling around the world and these are not simply figures. The developing countries are having the possibility to be equal with the developed one,” said she and gave examples from the tourism in the region of the ancient Jordan town of Petra. It became clear from her statement that the country was strongly dependent on tourism and that it formed more than 19% of the GDP.

Dana Firas emphasized the importance of succession: she said that they had programmes for 7-8 year-old children who were learning from the earliest age to preserve culture by using a modern system of education.

Minister Angelkova welcomed her guest and emphasized that tourism had become the center of economics and the second driving force of all spheres of development over the last 10 years. Bulgaria participates successfully in this ranking as over the last three years it achieved record results in its entire history. Last year, the country exceeded for the first time the limit of 9 million foreign tourists which is more than its population. The sector together with the similar industries encompasses 11% of the total employment in the country, thus we have to recognize its importance for the sustainable development of economics.

The Bulgarian minister also drew the attention to the serious connection between tourism and culture. Minister Angelkova said that we could develop only if we encouraged these contacts as the preservation and management of culture depended on tourism. She also said that we were talking not simply of the development of the tourist sector but of something bigger – the preservation of the cultural heritage. Bulgaria is extremely rich in that respect with its 40 000 artifacts, thousands of churches and monasteries. The minister thanks for the shared experience which could be useful for us. “Together we can turn culture into an instrument for integration,” said she.

The ambassadors from the missions in Sofia took part in the meeting and asked questions regarding the preservation of the cultural heritage of Jordan and Petra. Dana Firas is UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and President of “Petra National Trust”. She announced that 80% of the tourism in Jordan was connected with Petra and the cultural heritage and that they did their best to preserve the natural landscape. Large areas were under protection in active partnership with the non-governmental sector. “The cultural heritage is the pillar of the tourism in Jordan. The country has more than 100 000 archeological sites. 50 000 of them are registered and developed but the rest are not. They are in the gardens and yards of the people,” said the Princess of Jordan.

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