Economy

Economy

Business connections

By virtue of its geographical position, Thessaloniki is a centre of economic activities and trade exchange in South Eastern Europe. In 1926 for the first time was held the International Trade Fair (HELEXPO) and Bulgarian traders were involved as early as in the same decade. Initially the participants occupied different places in the city but in 1940 the Fair is relocated to its current and specially constructed location. With the exception of the interruption during the Second World War, the Thessaloniki Trade Fair is held annually. It succeeded in attracting interest and since the middle of 60-ies the total number of the visitors reached almost 1.5 million and the participants are approximately 2000 of which almost three quarters are foreigners. At the beginning of 21st century the number of the visitors is approximately 150 000 – 200 000 and the count of participants is more then 1200. Only in the period 2000 – 2005 more then 150 Bulgarian companies took part in the Fair.

For a large part of the countries belonging to the Balkan region Thessaloniki is a ‘door’ to the Mediterranean Sea. Bulgarian companies maintain actively contacts with the port in Thessaloniki that is the most direct waterway route to Suez Canal and Asia. Thanks to the port’s current modernization and the improvement of the capacity of logistics, the traffic of the shipping containers from and to Bulgaria increased. In 2013 Port Thessaloniki announced the opening of a special office in Sofia and its main aim is to facilitate the trade relations with Bulgarian firms that are one of the most significant business partners from the region. However, it could be emphasized that the role of Port Thessaloniki is more important in terms of the import in Bulgaria than about the export of Bulgarian goods that usually is realized through the connective routes of the Black Sea.

Greek business is among the biggest investors in Bulgaria with a considerable interest to financial sector and trade. As a consequence of the economic crises that affected Greece in 2008, there is a tendency Greek companies from the region of Thessaloniki to relocate their business in Bulgaria because of the more favourable economic situation - i.e. lower taxes and labour expenditure.

Tourism

Every year a little over one million Bulgarians travel to Greece and approximately similar total number of Greeks visit Bulgaria. For all Bulgarians who cross the border of Northern Greece regardless of the fact whether they make a pilgrimage to Mount Athos, go to holiday to the golden beaches of Aegean Sea or take a-few-day trip, Thessaloniki and its surroundings are preferable destination for tourism. The interest of the tourists is provoked by the plenty of cultural and historical sites, festivals, streets with numerous stores, coffee-houses and restaurants. Among the most famous symbols of the city are the White Tower, the Church Saint Dimitar, the Rotunda Saint George, the Arch of the Emperor Galerius, the Aristotelous Square and etc. The other favorable place in Thessaloniki is the artistic quarter Ladadika - one of the old parts of the city where the architecture and atmosphere from the 19th century are well preserved. The touristic flows are not only in one way – Greece, many Greeks regularly visit Bulgaria; they go skiing to Bansko, to wine tourism in Melnik or just go for a walk. Before the beginning of the financial crisis they spent approximately 230 millions dollars annually in our country.

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