With a few weeks to go before Bulgaria’s 2017/18 winter tourism season opens at major ski resorts such as Pamporovo and Bansko, hotels and restaurants admit that it is increasingly difficult to find qualified staff.
The problem comes against a background of forecasts that the winter tourism season in Bulgaria this year will break previous records.
A report on November 5 by Bulgarian National Television said that in Pamporovo, many hotels had not yet opened. Owners and managers of hotels were actively recruiting staff.
Zdenka Kapchikova, a hotel manager, said that most sought-after were people to work as waiters, bartenders and room maintenance staff.
Marian Belyakov, an executive director, said that every year, an increasing number of young people were looking to earn money outside Bulgaria, “so every year it becomes more and more difficult, undoubtedly”.
“Somehow, we in Pamporovo manage to cope, so at least at this stage there is no direct need for foreign labour,” Belyakov said.
In Pamporovo, there were also “permanent” seasonal workers, people who customarily spent the winter working in the resort. “Every year they return, but of course no one can ever guarantee this kind of persistence,” he said.
According to the report, in Bansko too owners of taverns were having difficulty in finding staff, especially good chefs. For this reason, businesses in the popular ski resort were forced to bring in people from other cities and towns for the height of the winter holiday season.
The official opening of the 2017/18 ski season in Bulgaria’s Bansko resort is on December 16.
Lilyana Shukerova, a bartender in Bansko, said that local staff were hard to find. “They were at the seaside and after that come here and spend the season, and then return to the seaside, because in summer there’s not as much work here as in the winter,” she said.
According to the Bulgarian National Television report, there was however optimism that they would find enough workers by the beginning of the season. Tourism Ministry forecasts are that the season in Bulgaria’s winter resorts will be a good one, surpassing the record 2016/17.
(Main photo, of Pamporovo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)