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Indian film shoots are ‘very nice’ success story, says Bulgarian tourism chief

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Sofia: Several Indian film production houses have chosen Bulgaria as a destination for their foreign shoots in recent years, something the country’s senior tourism official describes as a “very, very nice success story”, which they would like to build on further in their quest to boost tourism from India to the European country.

Georgi Alipiev, Director of International Cooperation in the Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism, believes the country’s pitch as an ‘all-seasons destination’ and move towards fully aligning with the European Union’s (EU) common Schengen free travel area will attract even more film production teams, with tourists from India following in their footsteps.

From Shah Rukh Khan’s Dilwale to Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay and the epic Bahubali, several big banner films have chosen locations in and around the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.

“We have a very, very nice success story with the filming of Bollywood movies and this is because of the fact that we can offer the best quality of shooting; the professionals in Bulgaria can assist their colleagues from India,” Alipiev told PTI.

According to the Indian Embassy in Bulgaria, former Indian President Ram Nath Kovind requested his Bulgarian counterpart, Rumen Radev, during his State Visit to Sofia in 2018 to drop in on the sets of the fantasy adventure Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva. The following year the adventure-based television reality show Khatron Ke Khiladi was shot in Sofia.

“I think films are the best channel through which we can advertise Bulgaria to the Indian market. We are the 16th largest European country out of 55 nations, so our territory is not small. This is a strong fact. They can enjoy many, many interesting landmarks, many interesting sites. The capital Sofia itself has huge cultural value as a real cradle of Christianity for Europe and for the world,” he said.

Alipiev went on to highlight many other spectacular sites in the capital city, which also offers around 30 mineral water springs and is among the top three spa destinations of Europe.

“Our other important cities include Plovdiv, the oldest inhabited city in Europe which has many interesting Roman and ancient monuments from other cultures and periods. I will recommend Varna as well, this is our largest city on the Black Sea coast giving the chance for visitors to enjoy the oldest processed gold treasury in the world – 6,000 years old,” he said, adding that smaller cities with attractions such as the “Valley of Roses” also offer very scenic spots.

“Tourism is booming in Bulgaria. We have already reached our pre-pandemic levels… And, we expect to join Schengen fully very, very soon. This is a very important priority for our country. It will influence our tourism industry massively because there is not going to be any queues on the borders, which is a very, very big advantage,” he said.

Alipiev also pointed to Bulgaria’s ambition to join the common Euro currency zone with the EU, one of the other factors to have a wide-ranging impact on international travel and tourism from countries such as India.

“India is one of the most important and prospective partners of the European Union because we know that India is, more or less, the largest democracy in the world. We share common democratic values with India and this is the fundament of our bilateral relations,” he added.

Published 12 June 2024, 12:36 IST

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