What North Korea can teach Bulgaria about tourism

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I was shocked but maybe not surprised to find out that Bulgaria did not exist as a destination for the BBC. It is not listed in its travel section. And I looked through the list and saw North Korea. How is that possible? And I thought that nobody could even enter North Korea, let alone get out!

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North Korea tourism: A Unique Experience

But then a good night’s sleep brings wisdom and clarity of vision in the early morning hours.

I realised that North Korea had got it all right and Bulgaria was getting it wrong.

Bulgaria is trying to be everything to everybody and just like every other destination but cheap.

On the contrary North Korea is exclusive and unique. It is extremely difficult to get in. The lucky few can boast about it to their friends at dinner parties for years to come. And when it gets liberated they can still say: “I remember the good old days of Communism in North Korea, the charm, the food shortages, the atmosphere…” and then scoff down some more tart.

North Korea offers something unique. Even Cuba has turned its back on hard-core Communism. Only in Pyong Yang can you see great murals of the leader, shudder at the awe-fearing Stalinist architecture with men in uniforms like ants running around head bowed. You can try to catch a peak at a North Korean‘s face and think: “How malnourished is he?”

And North Korea has created a unique experience. No other country will provide personal minders to accompany you everywhere. You’ll have a to live in a digital detox as mobile and internet access for foreigners are probably banned. What a great and unique experience!! That’s what people want when they go on holiday.

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Bulgaria tourism

So now if you compare that to the image that Bulgaria is trying to produce: a bit of beach, a bit of mountain, some wine and some golf…. HOW BORING!!

You’ll start off the conversation at the dinner table talking about your cheap wine and cheap golf, cheap hotel and cheap spa in Bulgaria and somebody will cut you off saying I did that in such and such a place…..

But the person who starts talking about their trip to North Korea will have the whole audience aghast with excitement and tremors.

Bulgaria Tourism: You are welcome to join our healthy debates about Bulgaria Tourism on LinkedIn.

About the author: Julien is Travel Therapist at JMB Active that specialises in health, culture and nature travel to Bulgaria. We create unique and memorable experiences of Bulgaria!

Accessible Bulgaria

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Bulgaria is now accessible to visitors with special mobility needs!

When I first started researching accessible tourism in Bulgaria I was wondering why no other tour operator had done it before. I soon realised why…. because it wasn’t going to be easy.

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The Rila Monastery a UNESCO World Heritage site is now accessible

In Bulgaria towns and buildings of interest to tourists were either built in the post-Middle-Ages with streets paved with cobble stones or at the time of Communism when people were a problem. At that time there were no gays, no invalids, no criminals…. you get the picture. And whoever said the contrary would be removed as the best solution to the human problem.

As a result many places are not still not adapted to access with a wheelchair. But we persisted. We went to measure the depth between the cobble-stones of the Old Town of Plovdiv. We test-drove a manned wheelchair in and out of museums and monasteries. Overall we planned access to all the places we recommend in our Accessible Cultural Tour of Bulgaria. And we found transport, hotels with specially adapted rooms and most of all great places to visit: Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo, the Rila monastery, Plovdiv, the Troyan monastery and more…

Welcome Bulgaria is now accessible to all!