Deputy Minister Modeva participates in the European Tourism Forum

18 November 2022

Deputy Minister Modeva participated in the European Tourism Forum organised by the European Commission within the framework of the Czech EU Presidency. The Forum took place in Prague, Czech Republic, from 14 to 16 November 2022.

The aim of the event was to exchange valuable know-how related to tourism policies – short-term rentals, package travel directive and other topical issues. Each of the member states presented their vision for a unified policy in the field of short-term rentals related to the tourism sector, aiming to achieve a uniform regulation in this aspect to give more predictability to businesses and consumers.

Prof. Modeva congratulated the organizers and guests of the event, presented Bulgaria and noted that we are one of the few countries in the EU that have adopted a law on short-term rentals and we are ready to pass on our experience to our international partners in the EU in this topic. She underlined that Bulgaria supports the revision of the EU Directive 2015/2302 on package travel related to travel services. “We need to find the balance between supporting the rights of customers and supporting the private sector in tourism,” said prof. Modeva. The introduction of specific rules on vouchers as an alternative for refunds in case of cancellation of packages, including due to unforeseen situations beyond the control of the final customer, is reasonable and it is to the benefit of the sector to be introduced in the short term. The effect of using vouchers in situations requiring cancellations has proven to be beneficial, helping to overcome bankruptcies for tour operators during the COVID-19 pandemic and at the same time compensating end-users.

The Bulgarian Ministry of Tourism supports working mechanisms to prevent bankruptcies in the sector and a working compensation system for the end user, such as the idea of establishing a national guarantee fund in Bulgaria. She said that the creation of a fund at European level to minimize the risk of bankruptcies of companies operating in the tourism industry in times of crises is an example of good practice, which shows responsible and statesmanlike behavior of the institutions in providing support for the tourism industry. According to Deputy Minister Modeva, the introduction of a fund to support the sector in the event of cancellations under the Directive (EC 2015/2302) enables the period of reimbursement to the final customer by private entities operating commercially to be extended to 14 days. This is a wonderful idea that should be implemented, she noted. There is a need to implement workable regulations and rules in platforms such as Airbnb and Booking to enable them to remove content that is not in line with the laws and legal norms of EU member states, and to have the ability to report irregularities to the authorities.

During the general meeting of the ETC member states, topics and organizational issues such as the 2023 Action Programme, budget and membership fees were discussed. Future cooperation between the ETC and the European Commission was also discussed during the meeting. Regarding short-term rentals policy, the vision of private sector leaders such as Expedia, Airbnb and others is to be presented.

In the coming year, Bulgaria will host the autumn session (19-21 September 2023) of the ETC Board of Directors.

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