Foreign Office Launches Major Marketing Campaign in Bulgaria*Views on BG | May 18, 2013, Saturday // 16:07| views
by Cristopher Hope
Months before the UK’s borders open to Bulgarians, the Government has launched a marketing campaign in the eastern European country about how "great" Britain is.
The Foreign Office is launching a “GREAT” campaign in Bulgaria with a series of “British weeks between 26 May and 11 June 2013.
The weeks will showcase “British music, creativity, sport, heritage, business and more” with its own Twitter hashtag #Britwks. The UK is also running an advertising campaign in Metro underground stations.
The timing is acutely sensitive for the Government with campaigners forecasting that tens of thousands Romanians and Bulgarians will try to emigrate to the UK when current restrictions are lifted at the end of this year.
Last month Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech in which he unveiled measures to cut down on the "pull" factors, such as access to the health service, which could encourage migrants to come to the UK.
Highlights include a charity football match at the national stadium involving a team from Aston Villa and a play about British politics subtitled in English and Bulgarian.
Britain’s ambassador Jonathan Allen and his wife Liz are also throwing open the doors of the British embassy.
The Foreign Office’s website tells how guests “will have the opportunity to taste traditional English tea and cakes”.
It adds: “The British Ambassador’s Residence is one of the most beautiful and interesting residential buildings in Sofia.
“Visitors will be able to see the main representational areas – Ballroom, Dining room, Drawing Room, and learn interesting facts about them. The Residence garden will also be open to the public, where information about the plants will be on display.”
The Foreign Office is also laying on cookery demonstrations and a series of films, including the first ever filmed from the slopes of Everest in 1924.
Another film, called Void Story, follows “a beleaguered pair of protagonists on a rollercoaster ride through the decimated remains of contemporary culture.”
The 55-strong Swindon Male Voice Choir has also been signed up to lay on a concert at the ambassador’s residence.
The campaign culminates in a “This is GREAT Britain” reception on June 11 to mark the Queen’s official birthday.
The Foreign Office is also running competitions to “find out interesting facts about the UK and the strong ties between Bulgaria and the UK. This will also include the opportunity for you to win GREAT British prizes, through competitions on the internet and radio.”
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch which says 50,000 Romanians and Bulgarians will come to the UK from next January, said: “The timing is absolutely extraordinary – one wonders if they are one the same planet as the rest of us.”
Last month a Foreign Office-commissioned report suggested that the UK was “woefully unprepared for the ending of migration restrictions.
It suggested that any influx of Romanians and Bulgarians could put a strain on schools and be made worse by the economic crisis in Italy and Spain.
The Government has already dropped plans for an advertising campaign to dissuade people from coming to the UK from the two countries.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The British Embassy in Sofia is organising a series of British Weeks in Bulgaria under the GREAT campaign banner. Events include culture, music, creativity, heritage and business.
"This series of events will take place around the country between 26 May and 11 June, culminating with a reception on the occasion the Queen’s Birthday.
"The programme highlights the breadth of the UK’s relationship with Bulgaria and reinforces the British Embassy’s reputation as one of the most dynamic and engaged missions in Bulgaria.
"A significant focus of the programme is promoting British business and innovation, delivering on the government’s prosperity agenda."
The title has been shortened by the staff of Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency).
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