Bulgaria’s Minister of Tourism Mariana Nikolova held urgent talks on August 9 with representatives of German tour operators in Bulgaria after Germany authorities issued travel warnings for Bulgaria’s districts of Varna, Dobrich and Blagoevgrad.
As of August 8, those arriving in Germany from these three districts may be exempted from quarantine only if they have a PCR test in Germany that proves negative. Germany has called on people not to travel to the three districts.
Sunday’s update from Bulgaria’s national information system showed the district of Dobrich as having the highest number of newly-confirmed cases of new coronavirus, 32, in the past 24 hours. Recent days also have seen significant increases in Varna and Blagoevgrad districts. Most of the new cases have been at old-age homes.
Nikolova told the tour operators’ representatives during the meeting, held in Golden Sands, that she would not allow any place of accommodation in Bulgaria – whether on the Black Sea or in the interior – to fail to apply safety measures.
She briefed the representatives on the steps she taken regarding the travel warnings, including that on August 7 she had written to Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry calling on it to react swiftly at the highest diplomatic level to defend the Bulgarian national position.
Nikolova said that Germany should be assured that the cases in the old-age homes were not reflected in the resorts.
A Tourism Ministry statement said that she and the tour operators discussed a media report showing how in Golden Sands Bulgaria’s anti-epidemic measures were not kept to at open-air nightclubs.
She said that Bulgaria would do everything possible to counteract smears “because we cannot get a general picture of the country from individual cases”.
Nikolova cited data from Bulgaria’s Unified Tourist Information System showing that from June 1 to August 6 2020, just more than 34 000 German tourists spent the night in accommodation in various parts of the country. The largest number, 7721, was in Golden Sands, followed by 7490 in Slunchev Bryag (Sunny Beach), 2581 in Albena, 1921 in Sofia and 1875 in Varna.
The number of German tourists who visited Bulgaria in January to June 2020 was 82.5 per cent lower than in the first six months of 2019, she said.
According to the Tourism Ministry statement, the representatives of the tour operators said that they believed what Nikolova said and there was nothing to be fearful about a holiday in Bulgaria.
They proposed to create a report on the situation specifically in the resorts around Varna and to propose specific measures.
We need to convince people that the spread in Varna and Dobrich districts is clustered and more specifically in nursing homes, the tour operators said, according to the Tourism Ministry statement.
They said that a swift reaction was needed lest hotels begin going out of business.
Nikolova said that she would initiate talks with the Ministry of Health so that, in reporting the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, it would emphasise that Bulgaria has the lowest coronavirus mortality, the ministry statement said.
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The Sofia Globe’s coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria is supported by the Embassy of Switzerland.
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