Underwater Tourist Routes on the Western Black Sea
Submarine archaeology represents, after submarine biology, geography and geology, the fourth new scientific branch determined by the research of the submarine environment. The uniqueness of maritime cultural landscape is due to the interaction between different, but close to each other spaces – land and sea. The maritime cultural landscape is a result of interaction between human processes on the coastal surface over time and the environment, which includes sea, coastal line and land. Part of the maritime cultural landscape is the coastal historical remains and these underwater along with their surroundings. It includes archaeological sites, historical settlements, fortresses, harbours, lighthouses as well as all of the geographical, archaeological and ethnological implications. Along the Western Black Sea, the underwater archaeological investigations have more than 60-years history beginning in Bulgaria in 1959. Among the main tasks of underwater archaeology is the study submerged prehistoric settlements, parts of neighbourhoods and harbour installations of Antique cities, as well as the most attractive part of maritime archaeology, namely searching of ancient shipwrecks.
As a result of the search campaigns, three routes of sunken ships in Bulgaria have been formed so far. Sites that are included in the visit by divers are located at accessible depths and are not sites that are protected by the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (UNESCO Convention 2001). This is done only in order to protect cultural monuments from harmful tourists. The remains are iron ships, the visit of which does not pose a threat to the health and lives of divers.
The route includes marine protected areas on the southern part of the Bulgarian coast, aiming to show the high ecotourism potential. As hotspots for biodiversity and beautiful underwater landscapes that host Europe's and nationally important habitats and species, achieving conservation and protection goals is paramount.
The main task is to improve, preserve and promote the underwater cultural heritage of the Western Black Sea coast. The offered services aim to promote adventure and experiential diving tourism and to increase the tourist potential of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast by identifying and promoting the underwater cultural and historical heritage of the western Black Sea coast.
The entire tourist product is directly related to the Blue Economy and Blue Growth, which are aimed at providing more relevant information to stakeholders in order to improve the quality and diversification of tourism services offered.
This tourist product offers four key activities that can be combined depending on the wishes and capabilities of consumers. These include the following tourist routes:
- Sunken ships and artificial reefs
- Submerged ancient trade routes (underwater archeological sites and artifacts).
- Underwater natural heritage
- Finds on display in coastal museums.
Experiential and interactive activities
The presented tourist attraction is entirely focused on alternative and experiential tourism on the Bulgarian Black Sea. At all visited sites of the route, tourists experience the spirit of past historical epochs, and at the protected natural underwater areas they touch the unique flora and fauna of the Black Sea.
Some of the activities and especially those that are related to visits to underwater natural protected areas are entirely in the context of natural heritage protection.
Main features and services that attract public
The unique opportunities for observing sunken ships and the underwater world of the Western Black Sea coast; acquaintance with the discoveries in Bulgaria of one of the most attractive sciences, namely underwater archeology.
Key partners and supporters
The key partners in the proposed activity are all diving clubs that operate on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, as well as some centers and ngos from Romania. A number of travel agencies and operators are also involved in the presentation of the product.
Participants, local community and customer segment
The proposed activities are aimed at tourists who are interested in underwater cultural and historical heritage, as well as adventure underwater sports on the Western Black Sea coast.
Communication and dissemination channels
An Internet site has been developed which provides complete information about the sites to be visited, the exact geographical coordinates, as well as the conditions for visits.
The promotion of the tourist product "Underwater tourist cultural routes in the Western Black Sea", which has the potential to attract many tourists and lead to the extension of the tourist season in Bulgarian resorts on the western Black Sea coast, is through the following communication channels:
- travel agencies;
- publishing the tourist offer on websites, on your own website or with the help of various search engines;
- Through advertising tools: leaflets, brochures, tours;
- By other means: tourist fairs, banners, distribution of news, announcements and advertisements.
Specific elements and features
Managerial and organizational specifics
The Institute of Oceanology represents the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences as a co-coordinator of all research on the Black Sea and the World Ocean by the National Oceanographic Commission and conducts research and develops international relations within the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO. The entire Bulgarian Black Sea coast has been studied by the Varna Institute of Oceanology, covering the field of geo-archeology, thus representing the central point of national expertise in the field.
The start to all points is designed to be easily accessible by car. Parking or convenient parking spaces are provided everywhere at the starting points. All sites at the destination are located along the international road E 87.
Liaison with other activities and events of the Black Sea Basin region
Among the main ideas of the route is to promote the diversification of the supply of sustainable European products and services for cultural tourism by developing a transnational tourism product for the underwater cultural heritage of the Black Sea. Therefore, in Romania there are similar tourist routes with opportunities for alternative and experiential tourism, which have as their starting point the seaport in Constanta.
MTS Manned Underwater Vehicles – UI2017 (1-24-17)
Bulgarian Black Sea coast: Kavarna, Balchik, Varna, Byala, Nessebar, Burgas, Szopol, as well as some of the marine protected zones, such as the Stone forest in the Bay of Sozopol, Maslen nos Cape.
The route is suitable from April to October, depending on the hydrometeorological conditions.
Organizer and contact information
Institute of Oceanology - Bulgarian Academy of Sciences,
40 Parvi May Str., P.O. Box 152,
Varna 9000, Bulgaria;
+359 52 370483