EUROPEAN STANDARDS TO BE INTRODUCED IN LEISURE INDUSTRY
The new Act on Toursim is about to come out. I hope the law would be passed by Parliament by the year-end and enforced as of April 1, 2002, Deputy Minister of Economy Dimitar Hadjinikolov said on November 19 when the draft was approved without any serious remarks at an extraordinary session of the Council of Ministers. The revocation of licences for some kinds of operations and the expansion of organisations' rights were of course greeted by the branch. The good news for the consumers of tourist services is that their rights are protected and guaranteed, as is the practice in the contemporary world. The act will supersede the currently effective one, which entered into effect on August the 24, 1998. The necessity of new legislative regulations is real because 95% of the assets in the sector are already in private hands, Mr. Hadjinikolov pointed out.The new Act on Tourism will revoke the licences for family hotels and lodgings. No permits will be required for restaurants at the graded hotels and for tour operators engaged in agent activities. But the loosening of the licensing regime provoked contradictory reactions, because the EU directives require licences for a number of these services.The Bill on Tourism complies with the requirements of Directive 90/314 of the EU on package price travels, regulating the business of tour operators who offer services outside the country. In future they will be obliged to sign contracts with their clients and include a compulsory insurance against insolvency or bankruptcy of the tour operator. The companies undertake to return the customers to the point of departure. They will also have to refund money if they fail to provide the services, contracted with the customers.The Bill stipulates the establishment of a National Inspection on Tourism.The draft projects that the current resort fees should be replaced by tourist fees that will go to a specialized fund in ll municipalities and not only in the resort ones. The resources in that fund will go for teh development of local tourism. We have proposed in the Bill a fee up to BGL1 per night, depending on the attractiveness of the individual municipality, Mr. Hadjinikolov specified. According to him this is one of the levers to stimulate the development of tourism on the local level, but it's another matter if the municipal councils will have the goodwill to vote for each collected lev to go to the specialized fund it is earmarked for.The advertising of the Bulgarian resorts will be entrusted to the National Informational Centre on Tourism, which will have the statute of an executive agency with the Ministry of Economy.