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Initiatives for regional marketing in Bulgaria

bulgaria_marketingAs we promised in the previous article about marketing of regional products – it is an instrument both for making the very region popular and for supporting its local economy.

Studying the situation in Bulgaria, one gets the impression that most of these initiatives aim to promote a given tourist destination and are applied in regions with eco-, culture-, or old crafts- centred tourism products. Such regions are Chiprovtsi (the “Torlatsi smo, junatsi smo” Fest, which is part of the development strategy of Euroregion “Stara Planina”), Troyan (Plum Fest - festivalnaslivata.com), Kazanlak (Rose Fest) and the Kukeri Games (Surva Fest) in Pernik. One notices that all the above-mentioned fests are events, which take place once a year or are meant to do it. Following a period of about 20 years as such local traditions have almost been forgotten, the trend is that they come back and grow. There are also websites where one can keep an eye on such kind of happenings (for example sabori.bg, festival359.com).

The reasons for the growing interest towards such local events are many but probably the most important one is the intensifying feeling of regional patriotism and the fact that people are increasingly less ashamed to show it. There are also movements based on regional patriotism such as the Severozapad Reserve (severozapad.org) or “Home Ludogorie” (ludogorie.org) and even “Dialects of Bulgaria” (dialektite.com). Regional patriotism is also a reason why people would buy products from the given region and thus support the local economy.

Moreover, the global trends for preferring “bio” and regional products are becoming stronger in Bulgaria as well and are reflected by initiatives such as Slow Food Bulgaria and Coalition “Clean food, fair livelihood”.

There are also initiatives with a very commercial character such as “Rhodopean forest products” for the sale of wild-growing mushrooms (www.isu.bg/main.aspx?lang=bg&f=81&d=129) or yoghurt “Purshevitsa”, the marketing programs of which include also the clean nature of the region given. The profit from those initiatives is not distributed in the community but goes into the pockets of company-owners. However, the positive effect for the region comes among other things in the form of employment.

Another important reason why the different local events are getting more and stronger is that the operating programmes (through which the money from EU funds in Bulgaria are distributed) are better implemented, alternative financing institutions are made popular and the local administrations and NGOs have improved their ability to apply for and implement projects.

Examples for projects, which have been financed by a non EU-institution and related to agro-ecology are “Conservation of Globally Important Biodiversity in High Nature Value Semi-natural Grasslands through Support for the Traditional Local Economy” by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB) ” (bspb-grasslands.org) as well as “Orgfarm” of the Regional Agrobusiness Centre (RABC) Vidin (www.rabc-vidin.com/proekt-orgfarm.html). The purpose of both projects among other things is to make it easier for local small farmers to market their products and thus promote sustainability.

Of course, this article does not aim to say everything about the marketing of regional products, nor the initiatives and projects, which take place in this respect in Bulgaria. The good thing is that such initiatives exist.

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