By Kang Hyun-kyung
Bulgarian Ambassador Petar Andonov pitched his country as a location for business investment, noting that its geographical location in southeast Europe will benefit Korean firms if they set up overseas branches there.
Speaking at a National Day event at the Hyatt Hotel in Seoul, Monday, the envoy stressed that Bulgaria sees Korea as one of its key partners in Asia.
"For us, Korea is increasingly an influential actor in global issues," he said.
The Bulgarian ambassador said his country has a lot in common with Korea historically, culturally and politically. "I think there are a lot of similarities between Korea and Bulgaria historically in terms of experiencing the consequences of foreign invasions," the envoy said.
Boyko Godev, counselor of the Bulgarian Embassy in Seoul, explained that tourism and investment are two core areas that the embassy has prioritized.
Regarding investment, Godev said, Bulgaria is now working on a project to attract Korean research and development centers to the European country. He said his embassy has contacted Samsung Electronics and SK to seek their investment into Bulgaria. The diplomat cited tax benefits, government support and relatively cheap lease fees for land as strengths of his country.
Tourism is another area that Bulgaria is working hard to facilitate bilateral ties, Godev said.
"Last year we had nearly 7 million of visitors from all over the world. The figure is almost the same as our population. Most of the tourists were from European countries. But Korean tourists are also on the rise," he said. "Last year we had approximately 12,000 Korean tourists visiting our country and the trend is on an upward trajectory."
The Bulgarian diplomat said his country has a lot to draw foreign tourists.
"We have good ski resorts and this is good for winter tourism. We also have many historic sites, including 10 cultural sites that were designated by the United Nations Educational, Science and Cultural Organization. Spas and well-being are other areas showing our strength," he said.
Govev said Bulgaria has set the ambitious goal of attracting 12 million tourists by 2020.