Bulgaria received a special prize at the fifth annual Intourmarket (ITM) expo in Moscow, Russia. The prize was awarded to Bulgaria by the organizers for its participation and support for the forum, and was presented to the Bulgarian delegation by the Executive Director of the World Tourism Organization, Zoltan Somogyi. This award from one of the largest tourism forums in the world is a big recognition for Bulgaria, said Ivo Marinov, Bulgarias Deputy Economy Minister, upon receiving the prize. Bulgaria is participating for the fifth time in the Intourmarket expo in the Russian capital. It is focusing on presenting itself as year-round tourist destination - stressing also wellness, spa, and cultural tourism. Ten leading Bulgarian tourism companies are represented in the Bulgarian section targeting Russian consumers with demonstrations of spa treatments and Bulgarian folk dances and music. The visitors of the 2010 edition of the Intourmarket expo are expected to reach 80 000. It is taking place from March 13 till March 16. Bulgarias Deputy Economy Minister Ivo Marinov, and the Chair of the Russian Federal Tourism Agency Anatoliy Yarochkin have signed a joint actions document for 2010-2011 during the forum. It focuses on boost tourism exchange between the two countries by simplifying the administrative procedures and exchange of statistical and other information on the control of the quality of tourism services. Russia comes in fourth after Germany as the largest source of foreign tourists to Bulgaria. A total of 287 000 Russians visited Bulgaria as tourists in 2008. Bulgarias Ambassador to Russia, Plamen Grozdanov, said it was an important achievement that Bulgaria managed to retain the same number of Russian tourists despite the economic crisis, as cited by the press office of the Bulgarian Ministry of Economy, Energy, and Tourism. The advertising campaign of the Bulgarian Economy Ministry in Russia is going to start in April 2010. It will for one year and will promote Bulgaria as a tourist destination with TV and newspaper commercials, trips for journalists, presentations and billboards in the larger Russian cities. The budget of the campaign is EUR 1,5 M; another EUR 500 000 will be allocated for Bulgarias participation in tourism expos around Russia. The funding comes from the advertising budget for Bulgarian tourism and EU programs. The Bulgarian government is considering using part of the tourist fees paid to the municipalities where foreign tourists go for advertising initiatives together with leading tour operator companies. The Economy Ministry has pointed out that the government was using all possibilities that the country has as an EU member in order make faster and simpler the issuing of visas to Russian tourists. Bulgarias Consul-General Angel Georgiev is quoted as saying that 2010 is expected to be a crucial year before Bulgaria joins the Schengen Agreement, and the country will do its best to follow strictly the Bulgarian and the EU legislation as far as the issuing of free visas to children under 6 years of age is concerned.