Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Sixty Years of Tourism Higher Education and Research in Bulgaria

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Sixty Years of Tourism Higher Education and Research in Bulgaria

Article excerpt


Tourism as a public and social activity is studied by many sciences. Its complex and heterogeneous character, and its diverse manifestations, have brought about the involvement of many science areas in its research, investigation and education. Since the beginning of tourism education and research, several scientific schools have been formed, of which the four dominating schools are shortly presented in the following approaches: (1) the social school concentrating on sociological and psychological sciences. This school was best developed in western European countries. (2) The spatial or geographical school was characteristic for countries with large territories, for example, the former Soviet Union, where the territorial distribution of tourist resources and their assessment and development was of significant importance. (3) The economic school was dominant for countries developing inbound international tourism, for which this type of economic activity was a considerable source of foreign currency. The scientific study of tourism originated in continental Europe, which was the first region to experience the impact of mass tourism (Cohen, 1984). One of the oldest educational programs in hospitality, travel and tourism was established in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1893, initially driven by the need for a qualified workforce for the needs of the rapidly growing tourism industry.

Recently, a more balanced and a more comprehensive approach toward tourism research has been adopted, namely the systematic approach, where tourism is regarded and studied as a heterogeneous socioeconomic and spatial system whose elements are finely balanced and which can be analysed, planned and managed in a highly integrated manner. The approach accommodates concepts such as diversity, multiplicity, relationships, synergy, communication flows and interdependency related to market, travel, destination, marketing (Mill, R. and A. Morrison, 1985). This approach is aligned with the widely accepted concept that tourism is an interdisciplinary field of study.

The objective of this article is to characterize the development of scientific research and education in tourism, hotel, and hospitality industry and to describe the impact of the political changes in Bulgaria on these issues mentioned before.

Being a country (together with many other countries around or in close proximity to the Mediterranean) of the 'second tourism generation' Bulgaria reflects in its tourism education and research process the peculiarities of these various approaches. Bulgaria always has been and still is a receptive tourist destination; that is, inbound tourism prevails over outbound tourism in quantitative and monetary values, and this tendency will probably continue in the future. In the 1960s the role of the Bulgarian tourist industry was to provide foreign currency, and in particular, hard currency, which was planned to be used for the improvement of the economic infrastructure of the country (Dyankov, and Rakadjiiska, 2014).

Nowadays, educational institutions of all four approaches - economic, geographical, social and hospitality - can be found in Bulgaria. Students are free to choose among a great variety of institutions offering educational programs in Tourism. The variety of Masters programs is even greater, and offers possibilities for high professional qualification and specialization, and continues to grow.

Education history and university ratings

The economic approach came first to existence in Bulgaria. Bulgaria started its development as an international tourist destination in the late 1950s. Soon it became clear that the country had to train and prepare its own workforce as a response to the needs of the new emerging resort complexes along the Black seaside. For that reason, in 1963, a special school was opened in the Golden Sands (north Black Sea coastline), whose task was to train staff for tourist enterprises such as guides and managers for hotels and restaurants. …

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