Key Problems and Gaps in the EU Funds Absorption for Heritage Attractions Development: the Case of Bulgaria
Keywords:Heritage Attractions, Public Projects, Evaluation
Heritage tourism has always been considered an important part of Bulgarian tourism portfolio and a significant regional development driver. It is officially set as a priority in a number of strategic documents at a national, regional and local level. Substantial financial resources for heritage socialization have been allocated after the accession of the country to the EU in 2007. A special scheme for tourism attractions development was implemented within the Operational Program “Regional Development” (OPRD) 2007-2013, with approved funding for a total of 120 heritage sites throughout the country. Yet, the EU funded projects have raised a fierce public debate regarding the delicate balance between heritage commodification and conservation as well as the disputable costs and benefits in terms of heritage protection, tourism development and its regional impacts. Based on the understanding that attractions are the core element of a competitive tourism product, the paper presents a brief review of the OPRD 2007-2013 supported projects and analyzes the experience gained in the process of projects’ selection and implementation.
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