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Tourism to seek 250M euro in state aid over two years

Date: 26.02.2009

Bulgaria’s tourist companies will urge for cheaper third-country visas and tax breaks as part of a set of measures to shore up the sector trapped by the global economic and financial downturn.

The sector needed 250 million euro in Government aid in 2009-2010 to generate revenues of over 1.2 billion euro, the Bulgarian Tourist Chamber and the Bulgarian Association of Travel Agents estimated.

The companies are calling for around 16 million leva in state subsidies for visas for tourists coming from Russia and other non-European Union countries, following the example of Cyprus, Turkey and Greece, which all compete with Bulgaria for the same markets.

The industry also proposed that the visas should be issued upon arrival at the border checkpoint, a practice adopted in other countries, such as Egypt, for example.

In addition, the Union of Investors in Tourism will call on the Government to waive value-added tax on tourism services for 2009.

Another proposed measure is a lower fuel excise for chartered flights and setting a bottom concession fee for beaches with a view to cutting the prices paid by tourists to rent lounge chairs and umbrellas.

The chamber and the association will also seek subsidies to encourage foreigners to make long vacations in the low season, offering five euro for foreign tourists who have spent more than ten days in Bulgaria.

A further measure is the creation of a special fund with a capital of 100 million leva to give incentives to Bulgarian holidaymakers to choose local resorts. The state should contribute half of the fund, with the rest coming equally from resort and tourist fees, and businesses.

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