You would have to be a great dreamer and an optimist, at the dawn of Bulgarian entrepreneurship, to start a business without a ‘briefcase stuffed with money’ or relatives [in the right places]. You would have to be slightly mad. Odysseia-In is exactly that – a crazy project for its time, which owes its conception to the efforts of half a dozen climbers and mountaineers: Lyubo, Slavi, Stefka, Roumen and Valentin – members of the Edelweiss Alpine Club, Sofia. Together, we had traversed the Bulgarian mountains, the Tatras and Pamir. Somehow, it seemed natural to try and make a living out of it. We weren’t short of ideas, but reality struck even before the end of the first year. Yes, we had some foreign guests already, who for some reason had placed their trust in us, but in 1991 the company was in unannounced bankruptcy.
In 1993, we added to our business the import of hiking and climbing equipment. We grew slowly, made mistakes, our services were substandard. We learned at the expense of our first clients, we learned while travelling, and the course I took in France in business development and marketing, supported by a programme of the French government, gave us our first corporate contacts. The rest was a matter of integrity, faith and perseverance, common sense, talent and creativity, determination. That’s the key to understanding Odysseia-in – a phenomenon in Bulgaria’s business history, whose team still holds in high regard the company’s mission, corporate ethics and vision.
We want to share our passion of Bulgaria and knowledge of its nature, history and people with our guests through providing sustainable travel that is profitable to our company and beneficial to local communities and the environment
Communities and culture
– Run and support conservation and education projects, and give to and support charities and initiatives in the communities visited
– Run tours to maximise the benefits on the cultural heritage of communities visited and incentivise them to maintain and protect their culture
– Develop the capacity of the host communities to earn a living through tourism by supporting them to be part of a tourism network, understand the industry and get market access
– Keep the money local through (as much as possible) buying locally and staying at family-run guesthouses and hotels.
– Provide income generation activities through hiring, training and encouraging local people to be involved in the delivery of Odysseia-In tours and activities
– Encourage our guests to buy local crafts and services
– Provide high quality, environmentally friendly tours through our leading approach to training our guides to meet international guiding standards
– Raise awareness of our accommodation providers about how they can improve their environmental performance
– Raise awareness of the local communities about the importance of protecting the natural assets of Bulgaria and the rest of the world
– Support and initiate local reforestation and conservation projects
– Advocate for a responsible approach to tourism development
– Provide rewarding work experiences for our young Bulgarian employees
– Personal goals: we continue to support stuff in pursuing personal goals (ex. Svidna).
– Flexible Working: we continue to provide a flexible working environment and to date all staff requests to amend their work patterns have been approved (ex)
– Training: 50% contribution towards guide training costs for 2 new guides
– Encourage positive interaction with local people through pre-trip briefings of our guests and specific training of our guides
– Improve communication around the responsible aspects of our tours
– Encourage contribution from our guests towards protecting the natural assets of Bulgaria. This year we didn’t collect contribution from guests through the existing “3 Euro Campaign” due to people feeling the pinch during the economic recession.