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Excursions for a cause or how to support wildlife conservation in Bulgaria

Photo: Svetoslav Velkov

Sustainable tourism has long ago become an achievable objective. A series of Bulgarian projects and initiatives have been promoting for years the so-called “slow travel” which is environmentally friendly, reduces carbon footprint and supports the local communities. “People have always been committed to a cause. It makes them feel complete and useful. That is why we started offering the so-called excursions for a cause aimed at preserving Bulgarian nature, says Svetoslav Velkov, manager of a Sofia-based tour operator which specializes in this type of non-standard and unusual excursions.

For the purpose, the bundled price includes a donation transferred by the travel agency to a local environmental organization. Tourists give symbolic sums. However, the money is spent on the promotion of various causes, Svetoslav Velkov admits and adds: “Our customers are willing to provide additional funds for the protection and conservation of Bulgarian nature. They do not give money directly to environmental companies, but to tour operators like us, which later redistribute this money.”

So far, a number of initiatives have been funded this way. Part of the money was spent on the provision of information boards in Belasitsa Nature Park, on a project for breeding red-eared sliders launched by the student club “Skorets”, on initiatives of the Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna (FWFF), etc.

“Usually we visit little known destinations. Thus, the local people become more self-confident and take pride in their unique tourist services. Tourists observe birds and other wild animal species. They also become acquainted with the lifestyle and culture of these communities. On the other hand, the people living in a certain area realize that they must preserve this wealth and that they can develop their tourist product successfully.”

Persin Island located on the Danube River is one of the destinations combining history and nature in an interesting manner. People mainly visit the island to observe birds, including the large colony of the Dalmatian pelican.

“Next, we are to travel town of Tutrakan, located on the bank of the Danube. We will also visit the village of Nova Cherna, where tourists can taste polenta based on authentic local food recipe. We also organized trips to the Iskar Gorge that abounds with bird and plant species. Usually we use local environmentalists as tour guides, because they know the area well and present the information in an interesting manner. Our message to people is to be interested in nature, because the more they are interested in it, the more they will appreciate and preserve it”, Svetoslav Velkov concluded.

Photos: Svetoslav Velkov

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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