Bulgaria’s Tourism Ministry is insisting on the extension of the measure whereby the state subsidises the accommodation of Ukrainian refugees in hotels, caretaker Tourism Minister Ilin Dimitrov said on September 1, according to a statement by the ministry.
Dimitrov said that the measure should be extended and implemented in an “appropriate version” because the Tourism Ministry understood its importance for the tourism industry and those employed in it.
However, the ministry would comply with whatever the caretaker government decided and the available funds in the budget, he said.
The measure was put in place by the now-former Kiril Petkov government as Ukrainians arrived in Bulgaria in large numbers, fleeing Russia’s war on their country.
The measure had been due to expire at the end of August, but in its final days in office, the Petkov government extended it until the end of September.
According to the September 1 Tourism Ministry statement, it is expected that the caretaker government will decide next week “in what form and for how long the aid will be continued”.
The caretaker government took office on August 2. In the close to a month that has passed, the dedicated information portal on Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria has not been updated.
On September 1, Dimitrov and deputy tourism minister Irena Georgieva held an emergency meeting with representatives of Sunny Beach hoteliers to discuss problems in the scheme, including payments to hoteliers that had been delayed, or were sums other than the hoteliers expected.
Dimitrov assured them the state would fulfil its commitments to the hoteliers, the statement said.
He said that from the very beginning, the programme had been beset with many problems and had a methodology that made accountability very difficult. The delay and discrepancy in the amounts was because of objective factors such as lack of data in some of the registers and systems, wrongly entered data and wrong processing.
Georgieva, who has led the process of administering the humanitarian programme to help refugees from Ukraine since the beginning, explained the huge amount of work that has been done by the Ministry of Tourism to manually check and compare the data submitted by hoteliers , the Ministry of the Interior and through other channels, on the one hand, and those available in the Unified Tourist Information System (ESTI), on the other.
“Our goal is to be sufficiently precise, albeit at the cost of some delay, because processing data, some of which is missing, is a time-consuming process,” Georgieva said.
“This is extremely important to do so that we do not create unnecessary problems specifically for the hoteliers when we get to the point of the auditing of the European funds that are used to pay for the programmes,” she said.
(Photo: Tourism Ministry)
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