The Second International Western Silk Road Workshop took place in Sofia on 26 and 27 July. The event is organized by the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The seminar is part of the joint Initiative for tourism development “Western Silk Road” (WSR), a joint project between the UNWTO and the Directorate-General for the Internal Market, Industry, Enterprise and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (DG GROW) of the European Commission, aimed at reviving the legacy of the Silk Road across Europe.

The event was attended by the Minister of Tourism, Mrs. Nikolina Angelkova, Mr. Zu Shanzong, Executive Director of the Technical Cooperation and Services at the WTO, Mrs. Alla Perezolova, Director of the Silk Road Program to WTO, Associate Prof. Mariana Tian of the Institute for Historical Research at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and others.

Minister Angelkova noted that the Western Silk Road is important for the promotion of bulgarian cultural and historical heritage. She pointed out that this initiative gives Bulgaria the opportunity to present joint products with the countries participating in this initiative.

Participants presented the important role of the tourism sector, which accounts for around 10% of global GDP (approximately US $ 7.6 trillion). Also it was noted that each eleventh working position is related to the tourism sector, the number of tourists on a global scale for 2016 was 1.235 billion, and it is expected that their number will increase to 1.4 billion for 2020. The trend itself has always progressed over the last decades.

The Western Silk Road initiative includes 33 countries, including Bulgaria. The WSR Action Plan is divided into three key areas of work: marketing and promotion; capacity building and destination management; travel facilities.

Professor Tian presented the historical development of the Silk Road and its modern dimension and transformation into the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative presented by Xi Jinping in 2013. The initiative was compared as a modern engine of world economic progress.

On the second day of the event there was a discussion about possible mechanisms which will give the basis for the functioning of a WSR Working Group.