40% of Bulgaria's Tourist Firms in 'Gray' Economy

2009-09-07

At least 40% of all of Bulgaria's tourist firms are in the gray economy sector, according to Prof. Tsvetan Tonchev, Chair of the Bulgarian Tourist Chamber. Tonchev said there were 800 registered tour operators in Bulgaria, and almost as many firms providing tourist services without having the proper registration, dir.bg reported. In his words, in 2008 Bulgaria's top Black Sea resorts Nessebar and Varna collected BGN 3 M each in tourist fees - just as much as they collected in 1990, which did not make sense given the large number of firms offering tourist services, and the increase in the number of tourists. Tonchev believes the organizers of the fatal trip to Ohrid, in which 15 Bulgarian tourists drowned in the Ohrid Lake, Macedonia, must be properly punished as a warning against all the other unlicensed firms offering tourist services. In Tonchev's words, Bulgaria's tourism sector will provide 10% of the country's GDP in 2009. The total tourism revenue is expected to be EUR 2,5 B. The number of foreign tourists has declined by 12-15%.