Several hundred Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria’s Albena to remain at the resort

While close to 10 000 Ukrainian refugees accommodated in the resorts near Varna and Dobrich on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast will be relocated to state facilities and hotels in the interior of the country, about 550 will remain at the Albena resort on the northern coast, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) said on May 27.

On May 31, the system whereby the state paid hotels 40 leva per person per day to accommodate Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s war on their country comes to an end.

Ukrainians still wanting the state to provide shelter will be housed in state facilities, or in hotels willing to participate in the new phase, for which they will be paid either 10 or 15 leva a day, not including value-added tax, depending on whether food is provided. Currently, official figures show that about 25 000 Ukrainians wish to be relocated.

BNT said that many hoteliers at the coast declined to join the government’s programme for accommodation of refugees, as the amount of 15 leva per person for accommodation and food did not suit them.

However, in Albena, all the hotels currently housing Ukrainians who have temporary protection were ready to continue their participation under the new conditions, the report said.

It said that 550 refugees were being accommodated in three hotels and one holiday village in Albena.

“The decision was difficult, because what the state gives us is not much,” Margita Todorova, director of marketing and sales at the Albena company, said.

“Fifteen leva nowadays should be spent quite reasonably,” Todorova said.

“We have developed a more economical menu, which should on the one hand satisfy the tastes of the people, on the other hand to satisfy us as a cost,” she said.

During the summer season, the complex will employ 150 Ukrainians.

Most of them will work as waiters, bartenders, maids and kitchen staff, as these posts do not require language skills and communication with guests in Bulgarian.

“Naturally, we have various other positions – for example, our spa centres will employ masseurs, and at the hospital, orderlies,” Todorova said.

She said that the diplomas of the doctors and nurses were not recognised, “we expect this problem to be solved so that we can use their qualifications”.

The Ukrainians were being paid the same as Bulgarians were in the same positions and received the same social benefits.

So that parents could work, centres for children aged three to six were to be opened at the hotels, with the first already opened, the report said.

It is unclear how long the refugees will be able to stay in Albena, but the administration says it will most likely be up to the end of September, according to the report.

(Archive photo: Boby Dimitrov)

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