Minister Zaritza Dinkova met the EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton

02 February 2024

They discussed priority issues for tourism staff and the slowdown in the sector's recovery in the country due to the war in Ukraine

In Brussels, Tourism Minister Zaritza Dinkova held a meeting with EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, where they discussed the difficulties facing the tourism industry in the country. Minister Dinkova stressed that the Ministry of Tourism, in a very short time after the start of the work of the regular government in the summer of 2023, has managed to develop a new approach to support and promote the Black Sea municipalities, which are among the most affected by the negative impact of the war in Ukraine.

‘We have developed a programme that has allowed foreign tour operators, airports and municipalities to join forces to promote the Black Sea region. This is an active and purposeful partnership with meaningful management of resources dedicated to promoting our tourism. We will measure the results after the summer season, but the participation of really small and unpopular municipalities in this program shows that it is very well planned and useful for the development of tourism at the local level,’ Minister Dinkova said,

Minister Dinkova also pointed out that additional resources for digital and green transition are needed for the development of the tourism sector as tourism as a sector has been left out of the Recovery and Sustainability Plan. ‘Bulgaria has not yet recovered its inbound tourism to 2019 levels, which is why we are considering and discussing with the European Commission options for targeted measures to support the sector,’ the Tourism Minister noted. This includes the need to review the removal of reduced VAT rates for tourism services.

Furthermore, Minister Dinkova also stressed that: ‘One of the most serious problems facing the Bulgarian tourism industry is providing the sector with trained staff to meet the ever-growing needs of tourists.’

‘The lack of qualified and promising staff in the tourism sector is a problem in many EU countries at the moment. The European Commission is actively working and has new initiatives in this direction. There is a need to raise the profile of the sector as a promising and career-building sector. Tourism is a very interesting field to work in and we will encourage young people to choose it’, Thierry Breton replied.

The Commissioner also pointed out that the fragile recovery of tourism in Bulgaria shows the real need for further efforts to highlight the importance of the sector at national level. His team will discuss in more detail with the relevant directorates the issue of extending the reduced VAT rates as a recovery measure from the COVID-19 crisis.

Commissioner Breton expressed interest in Minister Dinkova's initiative to promote joint projects and closer cooperation in the tourism sector between Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Italy and Spain.

He pointed out that the presented reform in the promotion of Black Sea municipalities promotes social sustainability and is a good example of the implementation of the European transition path in tourism.



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