Bulgaria is willing to negotiate an optimization of the visa regime with neighboring countries in a bid to attract more Chinese tourists.

Speaking Saturday at a seminar organized by the Ministry of Economy and Energy, Deputy Economy Minister Branimir Botev, explained that the agreements with neighboring countries would be in line with EU law and would seek to encourage the creation of combined packages and joint tourist products.

Saturday’s seminar brought together representatives of over 40 companies in the tourist sector, experts from the Council of Ministers, and the head of Bulgaria’s Trade and Economic Affairs Office in Beijing, Neli Nanova.

Botev, as cited by the press office of the Ministry of Economy and Energy, noted that Romania, Serbia and Macedonia were considered most likely partners, adding that any other neighbor country which shared Bulgaria’s vision on relations with China was welcome.

Botev emphasized that Chinese tourists were a main target group of tour operators, adding that they had specific preferences, opting for destinations offering mineral waters, cultural and historical heritage, shopping, entertainment and spa tourism.

He claimed that Bulgaria could become a more attractive tourist destination for visitors from China if it joined efforts with Romania and Serbia to develop a product providing the opportunity to visit several countries during one holiday.

He said that businesses were expected to submit proposals for the development of a Bulgarian tourist product which would boost the country’s popularity as a year-round destination among Chinese tourists.

Botev made clear that the Ministry of Economy and Energy would collect proposals until the next meeting of this type, scheduled to take place in January 2014.

The participants in the seminar also discussed measures to secure Chinese-speaking staff in tour operators, tourist guides, and hotel staff.

Botev also assured that the promotion of Bulgaria’s tourism in China would improve in 2014.