RELIEVED REGULATIONS FOR LEISURE INDUSTRY COMPANIES
Obligatory requirements for a minimum personnel of firms applying for a licence of a tour operator or a tourist agent have been eliminated by a Cabinet decision. Under the so far effective regulations, a company applying for such activities should have hired at least five persons. The regime will be stricter only for agencies which sell airplane tickets. This is necessitated by Bulgaria's commitments to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In the words of the Deputy Minister of Economy Dimitar Hadjinikolov, that measure has been undertaken under the pressure of the companies from the branch. The document, whose drafting has been envisioned in the Leisure Industry Act, had to be moved for discussion to the Council of Ministers in the beginning of 2003. But some of the restrictive clauses in it, such as number of working positions, area of the establishment, and qualification of the personnel, met tour operators' disapproval. According to data of the Ministry of Economy, there are 900 registered tour operators in Bulgaria at present, but only 400 firms are operating in fact. Those which give up their tour operator licence shall also be exempt from closing an insurance policy.The Ordinance on the grading of leisure industry establishments was also amended by a decision of the Council of Ministers. Its provisions shall not be applied to fast-food establishments with up to 12 seats. Cafes in car wash facilities and museums shall also be outside its regulations. Representatives of the tourist organisations will be included in the municipal commissions which grade the hotels and restaurants. The ordinance includes a provision as well that the higher requirements to the establishments, introduced by the recently approved Leisure Industry Act, will eb applied to those which are to be designed in the future. However, the requirement for availability of hotel rooms, especially equipped for disabled people, has remained, but the number of such accommodation has not been specified. Hotels along the Black Sea coast should have POS terminals, allowing payment to be effected by credit cards.