Bulgarian Tourism Sees Strong Start, Faces Staffing Challenges

Tourism | May 20, 2024, Monday // 14:34|  views

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Coastal hoteliers are increasing employee wages by at least 20% to address the staff shortage, explained Minister of Tourism Evtim Miloshev to BNR.

"Since the start of the year, for the first three months, data from the European Tourist Commission shows that Bulgaria is in second place for recovery compared to 2019, which is a very positive indicator," Miloshev said.

According to the European Tourist Commission, Bulgaria leads in tourist growth in Europe for the first three months of 2024, with a 39% increase compared to the same period in 2019, the ministry announced.

The minister highlighted the optimism brought by early May, when holidays such as May 1, Easter, and St. George's Day aligned, resulting in nearly 80,000 tourist registrations. This period was seen as a strong start to the season, noted Miloshev.

He also pointed out that organized tourism plans are made well in advance, and adjusting schedules due to weather isn't feasible. The large influx of foreign tourists is organized in the spring, with significant registrations beginning the previous year.

Miloshev mentioned that an interpretative decision is being sought to extend the 9% VAT for tour operators, set to expire in July, at least through the current season.

"Our ministry, and I personally, will push to discuss this matter, especially with the Ministry of Finance, to see if the ongoing legal relationship can be interpreted as a tax event under the 9% VAT. If so, it would greatly benefit employers and the sector," stated the caretaker minister of tourism.

Due to the staff shortage, employers are being compelled to offer at least a 20% higher salary than last summer, Miloshev noted.

He urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deploy additional staff to consular offices in Central Asian countries like Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Kyrgyzstan, where many job applicants for Bulgarian tourism are based. Currently, visa appointment requests are booked several months in advance, and employers are waiting for these workers.

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Tags: miloshev, tourism, hoteliers, Bulgarian

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