My name is Carmen Struck and I was born in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Saxony Anhalt. I graduated from “Lucas-Cranach-Gymnasium” in 2003. Afterwards I studied European Administrative Management at the University of Applied Science in Halberstadt. My last semester was a practical one, so I decided to start that intership program at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce at the International department in Augsburg. There I stayed actually for 3 years. During the study I have had the chance to go with the ERASMUS program to Lithuania for half a year which also has been a great experience next to my exchange year in Oklahoma, USA. In parallel I started my master degree in European and International Business Law at the University in Vienna. In 2010 we moved to Schönefeld where I started to work for the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Cottbus as business consultant. After 4 years I decided that I would like to work more internationally. That is why I applied for the job at the AHK Bulgaria. And out of a sudden, I have had a great interview with Dr. Mitko Vassilev in Berlin. I am married and have two daughters (Clara and Carolin). My hobbies are gardening, sports, cooking and creating new ideas for my small “Hofladen”, especially all different kinds of jam.
– Hello, Mrs. Struck! In recent years, You have become one of the great ambassadors of Bulgarian Balneo and Spa tourism. Tell us when You first visited Bulgaria and why You accepted the promotion and validation of our Spa tourism and Health tourism in particular as Your cause?
– As I came to Bulgaria in 2014, I have had no idea that tourism will be my passion. Before I just visited Bulgaria for summer holidays at the Black Sea Riviera. So I started my job being in Sofia from Sunday to Friday with a great team and a great CEO, giving me the chance developing and implementing project in different directions. In 2015 I met Dr. Siyka Katsarova, Chairman of the Bulgarian Balneology and SPA tourism. Through her enthusiasm and energy I learned a lot about Bulgaria´s SPA tourism. Travelling with my family through entire Bulgaria, I thought that we as a German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce and with the support of the Bulgarian Association of Balneology and SPA tourism as well as with the Bulgarian Ministry of tourism we have to promote this unseen side of tourism in Germany. Because during my time at the German chamber of Industry and commerce in Cottbus, tourism played also a role in the daily work of the chamber. So I started with the support of Dr. Mitko Vassilev and Dr. Siyka Katsarova that tourism becomes also part of my daily work in the chamber. With the positive drive, support and enthusiasm of BUBSPA and there members I got the motivation to do more and I would like to show that Bulgaria as a year-round Balneo and SPA tourism destination through entire Germany. My drive are the people I met in Bulgaria who developed those great destinations and services – incl. SPA, culinaric and the nature side. And this fantastic combination has to be promoted. There is a lack of knowledge in Germany about the Bulgarian Nature, natural ressources, thermal water also used in healing processes, and the best SPA procedures you can get with a smile.
– Spa tourism today is one of the most sought-after and sustainable in Bulgaria for year-round tourism, thanks to the long-standing and consistent policy of the Bulgarian Union of Balneology and Spa Tourism. What have been the biggest successes in Your teamwork with the organization and its role nationally and internationally?
– I have met Dr. Siyka Katsarova 7 years ago with a passion to fight for Bulgaria as a year-round destination. I really like her work and what she is doing and for me it is a pleasure to support in a way I can contribute to the policy of the Bulgarian Union of Balneology and SPA tourism. Together we managed that Bulgaria is recognized at the GKV Spitzenverband for Vorsorgekuren. Only together and as a team we contribute for recognition of Bulgaria as a year-round SPA and Health destination within Germany. But I am also happy about small steps, by presenting Bulgaria at FVW small talk, giving presentations, taking part at travel fairs (online or present) or organizing together delegations from Bulgaria to Germany or other way around to support the connection of these two countries.
– Are natural resources a chance for Bulgaria to improve its image as a destination not only for tourism, but also for business? And at the same time, is Covid-19 an opportunity for our country to attract more tourists for prevention?
In my opinion sustainable tourism and the usage of natural resource are a key element for future competiveness in tourism. Bulgaria has the opportunity to promote its great thermal water springs, the pure nature, fantastic food and kitchen, as well as its historical heritage. Even for business trips it becomes more and more important to have an ecological footprint. A lot of hotels using vegetables and fruits, wine from local producers, all prepared in fresh dishes which taste really good. Local honey, lavendal, Bulgarian rose are used in SPA procedures which is great and needs to be promoted. The Health and SPA resorts with their skilled employees have the potential to become one of the top destinations for prevention – for insiders Bulgaria is already the one top destination for prevention – in my eyes. For this we need to work together.
– What do You think Bulgaria should change in its advertising and presentation on the German market in order to reach its messages to the end user?
– In my personal opinion, we should promote Bulgaria more intensively. Bulgaria has a lot to be promoted and we should show all the potential to the German customer. We should use the press, the online media, travel fairs, cooperation with travel associations, events, TV advertisement – the whole program. But in a sustainable way and continuously.
– What will be Your personal satisfaction regarding Your work in the field of Balneo and Spa tourism in 5 years?
– I would like to hear Germans talking about their holidays in Bulgaria visiting Khustendil, Hissar, Pamporovo, Sandanski, Varna, Burgas and all the other best places of SPA and Balneo tourism. And that travel agencies and insurances, companies will contact us to ask whether they can promote Bulgaria and that we have requests nonstop. And thank you all who are supporting the message of getting Bulgaria to top destination of Balneo and SPA tourism all year-round, especially Dr. Siyka Katsarova who is the key motor for this project.