Bulgaria to give 10M leva to aid tourism business hit by Covid-19

Bulgaria’s tourism business will receive 10 million leva (about 5.11 million euro) under the EU Innovation and Competitiveness operational programme, Tourism Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Mariana Nikolova said on August 3.

“We know that these funds cannot fully cover the needs of the sector, estimated by them at about 155 million leva, but we are continuing to work on finding mechanisms to support the most affected sector of our economy,” Nikolova said.

She was speaking at a joint briefing with Economy Minister Luchezar Borissov and representatives of Bulgaria’s Future For Tourism organisation, Pavlina Ilieva and Emil Abazov.

Earlier in the day, a meeting was held with Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and representatives of the organisation, a Tourism Ministry statement said.

A week earlier, the organisation requested a meeting with Prime Minister Borissov to discuss the economic situation and identify measures to prevent mass bankruptcies of tour operators, Nikolova said.

She thanked PM Borissov for the “quick reaction” and the talks held on August 3, “in which he managed to get acquainted with the current situation and demands of the business”.

Criteria for applying for the funding have already been prepared, the statement said. Those interested will be able to submit an application to the Touris Ministry. The volume of the funds may not exceed 10 per cent of turnover in 2019.

Nikolova said that the scheme was expected to go into effect in August. The measure will be de minimis, as state aid that does not distort competition, she said.

Tour guides would not be eligible for the scheme so social measures will be sought for them to support their work, Nikolova said. Talks will be held with the Minister of Labour and Social Policy about this, she said.

The Future for Tourism Association thanked Nikolova for the talks and that agreement on specific solutions had been agreed within a week.

They said that the scheme is a small step, which, however, will help the industry to move forward and avoid bankruptcies.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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