Gray Economy Grips 50% of Bulgaria's Tourism Industry

2010-08-18

The gray economy in the Bulgarian tourism sector is anywhere between 40% and 50%, according to the President of the Bulgarian Tourist Chamber (BTCH), Tsvetan Tonchev. The staggering percentage was reported Wednesday in the aftermath of news that probes conducted by Bulgarian revenue agents on the Black Sea coast have revealed huge tax evasion scams. Tonchev says taxes from the tourist sector must bring BGN 60 M a year into the treasury, but right now the State gets the mere BGN 12 M. The forecast is that in 2010, 10% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be from the tourist industry. The BTCH President pointed out prices for accommodations and food are down 15% this summer season while prices of special services such as massage and SPA treatments are up 20%. The total amount of legal revenues from tourism is expected to reach BGN 6.5 B for 2010. Tonchev asked for even more tax probes, adding statements of some hotel owners that only 20% of all beds are booked seem fraudulent. The BTCH President further explained the short summer season is still a major issue and Bulgaria is yet to become a year-round destination by developing other forms of travel and improving the qualification of those working in the sector.