COVID Overshadows Winter Tourism after Good Start - Minister

COVID Overshadows Winter Tourism after Good Start - Minister

Sofia, January 13 (BTA) - Speaking at the first meeting of the Tourism Committee in the new National Assembly on Thursday, Tourism Minister Hristo Prodanov said Bulgaria had a very good start of the winter season but the COVID pandemic soon darkened the picture. "The winter season got off to a very good start, with resorts fully booked, perfect skiing conditions. But then, COVID began to cause trouble; it is at its height in the UK, and Britons have begun to cancel their charter flights as the situation in Bulgaria is worsening too and the restrictions are tightening," Prodanov said.

Replying to another question by an MP, the Minister voiced his concern about the staff shortage at tourist facilities during the summer. One way to cope with the problem is to use the system of dual education (education and apprenticeship) so that students from vocational schools can take internships in tourism. Furthermore, steps will be taken to relax the procedure for hiring workers from non-EU countries.

According to Prodanov, another important task is to organize an advertising campaign for the summer. Easing visa regulations is a priority for the Tourism Ministry, he added.

Bulgaria summer bookings in Poland and Germany are going best of all. Due to the uncertainties about the COVID situation, tourists tend to wait until the last moment to book their holidays, Prodanov said.

To encourage more Bulgarians to spend their holidays in local resorts, it is advisable to make food vouchers usable in the resorts as well, he proposed.

A government aid package of 30 million leva has benefited 2,220 companies in the sector. Another measure with the same budget is awaiting notification from the European Commission. In addition, tour operators and travel agents will be supported with 6 million leva under a special programme.

Taking another question from a Committee member, Prodanov said concession contracts in the tourism industry are not being checked because such a check would have to be conducted by the same ministerial unit that organized the concession procedures. "It would not be very productive to let them inspect their own work. There has to be some change to make the check real and useful," he argued. DT/VE

Source: Sofia