Developing Bulgaria as a destination for communist heritage tourism
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background and aims: Little research has been conducted on the benefits and disadvantages of a country’s communist past and legacy, despite its importance and impact and material and emotional heritage left for the generations to come. The present study aimed to critically evaluate the potential for the development of communist heritage tourism in Bulgaria. The aim was to be reached through the following objectives: 1) analyzing the communist heritage supply in Bulgaria; 2) analyzing the communist heritage demand in Bulgaria; 3) developing a SWOT analysis for the development of communist heritage in Bulgaria; 4) to give practical recommendations to tourism stakeholders for the development of communist heritage tourism in Bulgaria. Methods: 1) Quantitative research: an online and self – administered questionnaire was developed, composed of 5 – point Likert scales and dichotomous questions, distributed to Bulgarians over the age of 18, in order to determine the potential demand for communist heritage tourism in Bulgaria. 2) Qualitative research: aimed to determine the existing communism monuments in the country, their use, condition, and level of accessibility. Results: 1) Quantitative research: the results show a great interest towards the communist heritage in Bulgaria. Nearly 60% of the participants (359) stated that the socialist monuments are a very important part of the country’s history and that they should be used as tourism resources. 2) Qualitative research: Even though, until recently, none of the totalitarian monuments were used for any purpose, the situation has slightly changed in the last years. The topic of Bulgaria’s communist past and socialist heritage is gaining more and more attention. Several museums (real and online) were created showing various memorabilia from the communist rule in Bulgaria: photographs, stories, military items, household items, smaller monuments (busts) etc. Nevertheless, the biggest and more influential monuments situated in the cities and villages are still being ignored by the government which leads to their ruination. Conclusions: There is a rich supply of communist heritage resources in Bulgaria and more importantly there is an existing demand for the development of such cultural tourism. The development of communist heritage tourism would be a positive addition to the image of the country and its popularization as a tourism destination.
MSc Tourism Management
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