Tourism and cultural heritage

Available resources

Nearly 15% of the SCF Resource, or nearly 83.56 million BGN, are intended for the development of cultural heritage. Of these, BGN 14.75 million are for financing the implementation of tourism and cultural heritage projects in Sofia-city region and BGN 68.81 million for projects in Southern Bulgaria.

Who can apply?         

Public and private organizations and public-private partnerships (legal or individuals) are eligible, incl. representatives of religious institutions who are owners or perform eligible activities with elements related to the restoration and preservation of cultural heritage and create viable tourist products. 

What type of tourism and cultural heritage projects are funded? 

- Development of sites of cultural heritage of national and world importance, incl. religious sites, preservation and restoration, conservation, exhibition, socialization, promotion, equipment, introduction of translation techniques and programs, guided tours, etc.     

- Supporting the development of tourism products (in order to develop the cultural object as an attraction) and market information such as marketing and impact analyzes, regional surveys of visitors, development of marketing and advertising strategies and programs for tourist products, inventing of tourist packages and advertising activities preparation and distribution of information and promotional materials for tourist products, digitization of the relevant object, etc., directly related to the attractions and their connection to the surrounding environment;      

- Vertical planning activities, improvement of adjacent spaces; development of the tourist infrastructure needed for the attractions (hiking trails and health trails, climbing, riding and cycling trails, picnic sites, signboards, visitors' information centers);       

- Development of additional small-scale technical infrastructure in the area of ​​attractions needed for their visit (plumbing, children's playgrounds, recreation and sports facilities, car parks, green areas, toilets, lighting and electrical installations, small waste collection facilities, communal services and facilities serving the tourist attraction and visitors that are necessary for the development of a comprehensive tourist product);        

- Small scale, revenue-generating investments in shopping areas and catering establishments, accommodation, leisure facilities within the cultural site or directly linked to it within the overall tourist product that can be supported by financial instruments;

- Additional small-scale non-infrastructure activities that have a direct connection with the supported attractions (organizing events in the area of ​​attractions, marketing and advertising activities); training of staff working in supported attractions; participation in regional, national and international tourism fairs, exhibitions and fairs, etc.; campaigns for improving cultural heritage awareness and preservation and preservation;

- Improving accessibility for people with disabilities to cultural heritage sites and accompanying infrastructure. 

How is it proven? A compliance check for eligibility of the activities under Priority Axis 6 "Regional Tourism" of Operational programme „Regions in growth“ 2014-2020 is established by SCF on the basis of the presented project idea and application form. In the case of combined support with the grant, a description of the project costs is presented, with a distinction of the costs between the sources of funding (Grant and FI). 

For tourism and cultural heritage projects, SCF needs to check the following additional documents:

- proves for public discussion held and its results in the preparation of the proposed investment intent / project solution.

- documents for approval / reconciliation of proposed interventions on immovable cultural property (s) with a category of "national or global importance" under the applicable legislation (Article 84 of the Cultural Heritage Act). 

Maximum amount of funding 

When financing tourism and cultural heritage projects (PA 6), the total investment (Grant + FI) per project that includes a cultural site(s):

- of a "national importance", cannot exceed BGN 9 779 150 (the BGN equivalent of EUR 5 000 000)

- of a "world importance" - cannot exceed BGN 19 558 300 (the BGN equivalent of EUR 10 000 000)

In case of a project (including grant funding and FI) including two sites – one of "world importance" and one of “national importance”, the maximum amount of the financial support shall not exceed the ceiling for a project for site of world importance (i.e. 19,558,300 BGN, including funding from the Grant and FI). The total financial support and the proportion of grant funding and the financial instrument for each individual project shall be determined by the SCF based on an analysis of the project business plan and with view on ensuring the viability of the project. 

Repayment periods 

- Minimum period - up to 12 months.

- Maximum period - up to 240 months (20 years) for tourism and cultural heritage projects. 

Maximum grace period for the funding principal 

- Up to 36 months (3 years) for tourism and cultural heritage projects. 

Percentage of self-participation of the final recipient

 The applicant's own contribution to a tourism and cultural heritage project for the financial instrument component is at least 15% of the project cost. It is permissible to deduct the co-participation or to not require co-participation with municipal or other public final recipients. 

Territorial scope

- Eligible investment projects for tourism and cultural heritage should cover the territory of the districts: Sofia-city, Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Haskovo, Yambol, Kardzhali, Kyustendil, Pazardzhik, Pernik, Plovdiv, Sliven, Smolyan, Sofia district, Stara Zagora and should be related to immovable cultural heritage of category "national or world importance" within the meaning of the Cultural Heritage Act. 

How is it proven? 

The object of intervention under the project must have the status of an immovable cultural property (s) of "national or world importance" within the meaning of Art. 50 para. 1, items 1 and 2 of the Cultural Heritage Act.

- Real/ immovable cultural sites ​​of "world importance" category - they must be included in the World Heritage List by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee;

- immovable cultural values ​​of "national importance" category - must be included in the List of cultural heritage sites of national importance at National Institute of Immovable Cultural Heritage as of 2017. 

Generate revenue 

Projects targeting investments in tourism development, related to immovable cultural property of a "national or world" importance, should generate revenue through the inclusion of economic activities within the project for reimbursement of the invested funds and for guaranteeing the financial sustainability of the project. Due to the socio-economic impact of the project, the revenue should be insufficient for the project to be financed on a purely market-based basis. 

How is it proven? It is established by SCF on the basis of the presented Business Plan, according to the requirements, published on the website of SCF. 

Combined funding (Grant + FI)         

Combined funding is intended for projects that do not have the potential to generate sufficient revenue to be fully funded through financial instruments and need a grant to be financially viable.      

A combination of the Grant and a loan from SCF is possible for projects under Operational progamme „Regions in growth“, Priority Axis 6 "Regional Tourism" when the final recipients are eligible beneficiaries as per the requirements of the programme. According to the Guidelines for applicants under Axis 6 of the OP eligible applicants are:

- Ministry of Culture;

- All municipalities on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria;

- Religious institutions and their local units, which are legal entities. 

When applicants are eligible for Grant support, a maximum of 85% of project costs can be funded with the grant while the grant should be used only for financing of construction and installation costs, conservation and restoration work. 

The Beneficiary is required to maintain separate accountability for each source of support (grant and financial instrument) under the project to ensure an adequate audit trail. The beneficiary cannot use the grant to recover the support received from a financial instrument and should not use the support through a financial instrument for pre-financing of activities to be financed with grants. 

How is it proven? With an Application Form and a Business Plan submitted to the SCF, on the basis of which the SCF determines size of the grant necessary in order to ensure the financial viability of the project. The SCF evaluates then the project for the portion of expenditure financed by a financial instrument. After the assessment by the SCF, the applicant submits the project proposal through UMIS 2020 for evaluation from the Managing Authority of OPRG 2014 – 2020.