Responsible tourism: Bulgaria mountains and monasteries Tour
Much of the time on this tour is spent in towns and cities, but we do spend time in the Rhodope and Balkan Mountains, a stunning area of impressive landscapes. When exploring this area on foot we take care to stick to the trails and not to damage any of the flora, as some parts of the region are quite a fragile environment. We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours, which includes the drivers. Bulgaria is a country where western European norms regarding the environment are not so well entrenched, therefore it is quite common for local people to dispose of rubbish simply by throwing it out of the window. We work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.
Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – again in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off – small things but we hope that they can become ingrained into the culture of a country where tourism isn't so established as other parts of Europe.
In Gorno Draglishte we stay in a small guesthouse which uses local produce for the meals they provide – local in the sense of being from the village and nearby area, not from elsewhere. Not only is this a great introduction to the culinary culture of Bulgaria but it helps in a small way to cut down on food miles.
On all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we spend time in some of Bulgaria’s more traditional areas such as the village of Gorno Draglishte, that do not see as much tourism as other parts of the country. We stay at locally owned guesthouses and hotels and where appropriate employ the services of local people in order not only to gain a greater insight into the complex traditions here but to ensure that they gain financial benefit from our visit, rather than just being ‘exhibits’.
We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations – not just western travellers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the country. Through carefully supervised tourism, greater worth is placed upon Bulgaria’s rich heritage and it is hoped that local authorities will not only have the funds but also recognise the value in restoring and preserving such places.
When visiting the smaller communities we encourage our travellers to spend money locally and perhaps purchase some of the fine handicrafts on sale here.