Bulgaria's Summer Struggle: Staffing Crisis Threatens Seaside Hotels

Tourism | April 26, 2024, Friday // 09:33|  views

Photo: Stella Ivanova

As summer approaches, Bulgaria's seaside tourism industry faces a daunting challenge as hotels may remain shuttered due to a severe shortage of staff. The predicament stems from a reluctance among workers to accept low wages, exacerbated by delays in visa procedures for seasonal employees from third countries.

In response to the looming crisis, lawyers from migration centers and employers are contemplating legal action against the state, citing lost benefits and criticizing the sluggish visa processing system. The tourism sector, which heavily relies on seasonal workers, is reeling from the impact of these delays.

Despite recent amendments to the Law on Foreigners in Bulgaria, rushed through Parliament in a bid to address the issue, hoteliers and restaurant owners express skepticism about salvaging the summer season. Evtim Miloshev, the official Minister of Tourism, swiftly reacted to the crisis, but concerns persist among industry stakeholders.

Employers, particularly along the Southern Black Sea coast, have faced significant hurdles in obtaining visas for approximately 6,000 workers from Uzbekistan. Delays of months are reported, with bureaucratic inefficiencies hindering the timely processing of applications.

Plamen Dotov, a legal consultant at a migration center in Burgas, highlights the dire situation, noting the absence of any visas issued despite numerous applications. The bureaucratic bottleneck, exacerbated by the transition to the Schengen visa system, has left businesses in limbo, with no relief in sight.

Acting Minister of Tourism Evtim Miloshev acknowledges the gravity of the situation and reassures the public that the administration is working to address the issue. However, concerns linger over the potential impact on the tourism sector, with fears of an impending crisis if swift action is not taken.

Amidst the uncertainty, the possibility of collective legal action looms, as employers and migration centers contemplate seeking redress for lost benefits. The fate of Bulgaria's summer tourism season hangs in the balance, contingent upon the state's response to the pressing staffing crisis.

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Tags: Bulgaria, seaside, hotels, staffing


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