Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association on Covid-19 measures: ‘Chaos, incompetence and clumsiness’

The Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association (BHRA) has sent a protest note to Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and other officials deriding the government’s handling of the hospitality industry through the restrictive measures against new coronavirus.

Veni Petrova, chairperson of the association, slammed the “chaos, incompetence and clumsiness” of the government and said that it had failed to treat a whole sector of the country responsibly.

The note was addressed, apart from to Borissov, also to Deputy Prime Minister Krassimir Karakachanov, Deputy Speaker Valeri Simeonov and Health Minister Kiril Ananiev.

BHRA said that it was unacceptable and incorrect that BHRA, which has more than 2500 member businesses and which described itself in the note as a long-term and loyal partner of the government, not to have been notified of Sunday’s meeting at which it was decided to re-open night clubs, discos and night bars.

“We express our endless astonishment at the fact that we were isolated from participating in the dialogue with Mr. Ananiev concerning the revocation of the order to close the nightclubs and the decision taken without our presence to reopen them.”

The note also objected to the unpredictably of the management of the restrictive measures against new coronavirus.

“We do not consider it normal to close and open us without predictability, bordering on disgrace, from which we suffer losses.”

BHRA also objected to the way the daily updates about Covid-19 in Bulgaria are presented, saying that the reporting should be based on the percentage of infected within the number of tests done.

“This report shows that we have a decrease, not that the situation is ‘milk and honey’, but statistics show this,” it said.

“This incorrect presentation of information reaches our foreign partners, which leads to losses in the market, and hence to losses in the industry, and not only for this year.”

The association said that none of the measures taken by Bulgaria’s government were working, or at least when it came to the tourism industry.

“We definitely believe that the Ministry of Tourism is also to blame for this, with its passivity. The Ministry of Tourism failed to meet the serious problems in the industry and failed, with its colleagues from other departments, and in the department itself to adapt, otherwise well-thought-out measures by the government to work for the industry, despite the many meetings, talks and letters.”

A beach on Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast, July 12 2020. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer

BHRA listed in the note a number of measures which it said either were not working or which were “infinitely delayed”.

These included the payroll assistance “60:40″/80:20” measure, which was to enter into force on July 1, the financial incentives to support charter flights, the provision of low-interest loans guaranteed by Bulgarian National Bank by banks – both for staff and companies in the indstry, the promised timely grant for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises; and the loudly advertised crisis advertising campaign of destination Bulgaria abroad and in the country, BHRA said.

“In general, the industry welcomes the introduction of a differentiated VAT rate to stimulate the tourism industry, as is the practice in other European countries. But due to reduced trade, Covid-19 restrictions, cutting the scope of the law beyond the parameters agreed with the Prime Minister, raising social security thresholds by over 35 per cent creates extreme tension, leading to dissatisfaction and financial difficulties in much of the industry,” the association said.

BHRA called for urgent financial assistance for the entire tourism business, “given that so far there are virtually no working measures for the industry or if there are, they are insignificant”.

“We expect urgent measures to be taken by the government to address the above issues. We insist on a meeting with the Prime Minister and the coalition partners by July 17 to discuss and solve the problems. Otherwise, we will be forced to defend our survival in legal ways,” the association said.

(Main photo: Lance Nelson of appfactory.bg)

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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