My name is Simana and I have my grandmother’s name. She is the only other Simana I have heard of. On one hand, I am used to having people regularly mess up my name, so I react to Simona, Dimana, Samantha and even Smetana which means cream in Bulgarian. On the other hand, however, if you manage to enter my name correctly in your phone, you will never have to wonder who that lady was. I was born in the town of Tolbuhin but I graduated the English Language High School in Dobrich, as they changed the town’s name in the meantime. Then I studied biochemistry and microbiology at the Sofia University; I got my Master Degree and I decided I wanted to have nothing to do with it. I started a temporary job as an assistant to a British sustainable tourism project in Blagoevgrad and this went on for nearly 25 years now.

Bulgarian-Greek exchange for sustainable tourism

Xanthi, Greece, 2007. Study visit to Northern Greece organized by me for a group of tourism stakeholders from Southwest Bulgaria.

In all those years I studied the specifics of sustainable tourism around the world. I searched the depths of tourism marketing – traditional and electronic. I have visited hundreds of small villages and neighbourhoods, including the 254 villages of Balgoevgrad District. I have held tens of trainings for local communities around Bulgaria, to explain that rural tourism does not exactly mean milking goats, and that nobody travels even for 200 k just to sleep in a hotel. They can sleep at home for no money at all. People travel to collect memories and it is the job of everyone who wishes to develop tourism to help his or her guests create these memories. Alas, that is a long and winding road to go.

Training in sustainable toruism for nature guides

Visitor Center of Rila Monastery Nature Park, Bulgaria, 2019. Training of guides in Bulgarian protected areas.

I believe that sustainable tourism is the right formula for protecting our natural and cultural heritage, especially using the methods of so-called heritage interpretation. This is sort of my private mania. I am the initiator and creator of the first interpetive nature trails and exhibitions for the Bulgarian National Parks of Pirin and Rila, as well as the Nature Park of Belasitsa. I am the author of a series of guidebooks on heritage interpetation. I do many trainings on the subject and will continue to strive for its broad introduction to Bulgarian tourism.

The Sun of Todorka Festival, Ohoden Village

Village of Ohoden, near Vratsa, Bulgaria, 2016. Re-enactors from Varna demonstrate an yurt from the Second Bulgarian Kingdom.

I have never stopped traveling. In the years of socialism, I did this only in Bulgaria, excluding a rather honorary pioneers’ camp in Poland, from where my most vivid memory is they had ice-cream with pieces of real fruits inside, not just aroma! Then I had a period of reproduction and traveling got a bit specific though ever more joyful. Years later, my husband and I discovered the meaning of sea vacation with the boy/girlfriend, we liked it a lot and so we continue.

Sea vacation with your partner

Ksamil, Albania, 2016. Now this is a sea vacation.

I consider myself very lucky as I love what I do and I do what I love. I believe that I can be of help to you as both a story-teller and a very great expert in sustainable tourism. You can write to me on: me@manyathetourist.com and follow me in social media, links are given at the bottom of the page.

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Interview at Blagoevgrad Radio, 29.03.2020