Bulgaria’s Consumer Protection Commission is opening four temporary offices in the country’s winter ski resorts of Bansko, Pamporovo, Borovets and Chepelare, according to the commission’s chief secretary Ivan Bachvarov.
The temporary offices in Bansko, Pamporovo and Borovets will be open from mid-December 2016 and the one in Chepelare will open in January, commission head Dimitar Margaritov said.
Visitors will be able to use the offices to submit complaints and to obtain consumer rights information, in Bulgarian and in English, according to the commission.
The Consumer Protection Commission has started checks related to various issues, including the categorisation of tourist facilities and the compliance of services with the state category, information on price categories, the quality of alcohol of restaurants, as well as checks of ski slopes and ski areas.
Discrepancies between offers and actual conditions, especially at sites with higher categorisations, was one of the most frequently-detected irregularities, Margaritov said.
He said that sanctions were effective, for example the closure of the Mechi Chal 1 ski slope after a fatal accident led to the elimination of snow-making machinery that did not comply with requirements, and improved constrruction standards.
Earlier this week, Bulgarian Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova said that about five per cent growth in the number of tourists in the upcoming winter tourist season.
“Regardless of the political situation, we continue to work at full capacity to ensure these positive forecasts and to be fully prepared for the coming winter,” said Angelkova, a member of the Borissov government that has resigned but which remains in place pending the appointment of a caretaker cabinet.
Angelkova presented figures showing that Sofia Airport expected an increase of 35 per cent, to 7574, scheduled and charter flights during the 2016/17 winter season.
These included significant increases from the UK, Germany, Greece, Romania, Israel, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Poland. Also expected were increased flights from Ukraine and Denmark.
Plovdiv Airport also expects an increase in the number of flights during the 2016/17 winter season, including a 20 per cent increase from Israel, 67 per cent from Israel and more than 24 per cent from Russia, Angelkova said.
“These data are very positive, but put explicit requirement to us to be the most prepared and meet the expectations of these travellers,” she said.
All indications were that this would be Bulgaria’s third consecutive winter tourist season to see growth, Angelkova said. Official figures are that between December 2015 and March 2016, Bulgaria was visited by more than 1.2 million foreign citizens, a five per cent increase over the previous December-March.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)