The Significance of Tourism Destination Branding: Branding Bulgaria
The gurus of nation branding are considered to be Wally Olins and Simon Anholt. They focus on nation branding simply because in a globalised world such as ours the competition between states for foreign direct investment (FDI), tourism and exports constantly increases. According to them nation branding is all about the image of a country across the world. Bulgaria in specific is highly dependent on its image as a tourist destination.
The actuality of the problem concerning the positioning of the foreign tourism market is justified, first, by the fact that tourism at present, provides a significant proportion of the foreign exchange earnings of Bulgaria, secondly, from the existing resource conditions for its further development. Hence this is one of the many good reasons to make an extra effort to build a more stable and recognizable brand of Bulgaria as a tourist destination.
The image of the destinations is influenced directly by the country’s national brand. Marketing of tourist destinations includes a set of activities to satisfy the consumers’ interest and demand. Marketing of a destination must engage with the complicated task of uniting heterogeneous product, which is offered by a large number of economic entities with different scales.In today’s highly competitive world, tourist destinations are fighting for every tourist, through the offering of attractive tourism products, prices, service, entertainment, security, and image perception to current and potential tourists.
With a unique and poorly known culture, ancient historical monuments, a varied climate, geographical positioning, offering multiple and varied tourist products, Bulgaria is an attractive tourist destination with potential for development. That’s why the future tourist Bulgarian position, following the strategic actions taken in recent years, must rely on four competing factors – the history, art and culture, traditions, and cuisine -showing its most powerful features: Uniqueness of the cultural and historical heritage; Regional tour leadership; Geographical position; Spa and seaside resorts; Price-quality ratio.
The country largely relies on natural resources as a source of formation and development of the tourism sector. The comparison in this respect with some major competitors shows the following. Bulgaria is among the European countries with the lowest indicators regarding the repeated visit of foreign tourists and on the recommendation of the country of their acquaintances. This is clear from a study done in the framework of the project “promotion of quality and sustainable development of tourist enterprises of the Bulgarian Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism.
Survey of 108 foreign tourists in Bulgaria found that only 21% plan to visit the country at an average rate for Europe 48%. Less than half of respondents (43%) have declared that they will recommend his compatriots to Bulgaria as a tourist destination, with Euro norm by 71%. 
The main type of tourism, with which it is associated, according to the “Bulgarian Sea Union Brandt Bulgaria”, foreign tourists are much less familiar with the other hiking opportunities available in the country. From the information presented in this work, the following conclusions can be: 1. Bulgaria has a positive image among Bulgarian and foreign tourists; 2. Lacking a unified and consistent image of the country through which it emphatically to be distinguished from the other competing tourist destinations; 3. the country is generally perceived as a peaceful destination, with beautiful scenery, good food with good conditions for SPA/Wellness and alternative tourism, good properties. 4. Destination that offers good conditions for sea and mountain-skiing tourism; 5. Inexpensive destination
Whilst World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts that by 2017, Bulgarian will attract over 16 million visitors a year-more than twice the number recorded in 2009, these projections are indicative of larger investment opportunities, not only in traditional areas such as hotels, restaurants, beach and ski resorts, but also alternative opportunities for tourism in the country. WTTC’s opinion shows that the development of alternative forms of tourism in Bulgaria, are opportunities to attract foreign tourists, as well as the creation of diverse tourism products in order to expand the market and the provision of alternative forms of tourism.
According to a survey of Holiday Barometer for 2012, which is done annually by British post, Bulgarian was in fourth place in the world as a country with the best quality of the tourist product at an affordable price. According to the survey, tourism in Bulgaria is no longer divided into summer and winter, and is part of the global health, Spa, ECO and golf tourism. However, a very small portion of foreign tourists associate the country country with a rich historical heritage, and hence with the possibilities for exploring the famous cultural attractions.
Although each potential user is surrounded by numerous brands that have a direct and indirect impact of its consumer behaviour, lack of brand appears to be a huge obstacle. The capital of the brand is what you need to effectively manage to bring lasting success of the tourist destination. The brand is the starting point for all marketing decisions and all the communication activities. Creating a brand of destination is the definition and expression of the uniqueness of the destination, it represents not only the creation of a logo, but also the creation of verbal and visual identity, while building the brand includes strategic planning for the positioning on the market and the platform of communication activities. Therefore, the role of tourism destination branding in Bulgaria is very important, not only because it presents the image of the country across the world, but also because an effective branding can lead to economic and cultural development.
 (Electronic document: project: “development of the brand” Bulgarian “, product and regional brands and introducing integrated brand management”, the main results of the research in the first phase http://www.mi.government.bg/files/useruploads/files/vop/brand_research.pdf )
 (Electronic document: Travel and Tourism: Economic Impact, Bulgaria. Accessed12.05.2015 http://www.wttc.org/-/media/files/reports/economic%20impact%20research/country%20reports/bulgaria2014.pdf )
 (Electronic document: Holiday Barometer collects data on prices in different countries around the world and groups those data in analysis for potential tourists compared to the living standards of the particular destination accessed 12.05.2015 http://www.postoffice.co.uk/travel-cost-barometer )