LEISURE INDUSTRY BRANCH CHOSE ITS REPRESENTATION
The Bulgarian Tourist Industry Union (BTIU) was finally established this week after two structures were set up in end-April and early May, declaring themselves representatives of the sector's interests - a National Council of the Bulgarian Tourist Industry, and a National Board on Tourism.
The union's establishment should confirm the willingness for joint efforts of all NGOs and of the enterprises operating in the leisure industry sphere. The new structure is ambitious to be a partner of State bodies, which are responsible for the national policy in the branch and the legislative regulation for development of tourism. The founders were congratulated by the Tourism Agency Chairman Mario al-Jebouri who underlined that the State needed such an unified partner for overcoming the difficulties in the sector and for improving the quality of the Bulgarian tourist product.
BTIU will be headed by a Management Board and a Supervisory Board. The general meeting appointed 17 members to the Management Board, among whom are: the Executive Director of Balkan Tourist AD Nedyalka Sandalska, Elena Ivanova from the Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association, Mladen Mutafchiyski, owner of Helena Resorts, Krassimir Kanev from the Bulgarian Association of Tourist Agencies, Silvia Alexandrova, Executive Director of Golden Sands AD, Georgi Shterev from the Golden Sands Union of Hoteliers, Tsvetan Tonchev, Chairman of the Bulgarian Chamber of Tourism, Hristo Droumev, head of the National Palace of Culture, Stefan Sharlopov, a hotel-keeper, Nikolay Trifonov, Mayor of Nessebar, and others.
Petya Slavova, Chairperson of Investbank's Supervisory Board and of the Management Board of Festa Holding, was unanimously appointed Chair of BTIU's board.
I'll be actively working for the development of the leisure industry in Bulgaria. I believe that all of us can do something for really proving the priority of this branch in Bulgaria's economy, she said.
The Supervisory Board consists of seven members, including: Vitan Ivanov, Georgi Kroumov, Milko Milkov, Alexander Chakurov, Dimiter Vulchev, Georgi Tsurev, and Lyubomir Pankovski.
The meeting voted its first declaration as well, appealing to settle the problem of value added tax (VAT) in the tourism branch. We are the only country in the world which has decided that tourism is not an export brand, Ms. Sandalska said. However, let's be realistic and demand what we could get in fact. We all know there should be no VAT at all but at least for now let it become 7% for all tourist services, notwithstanding if they are used by Bulgarian or foreign clients, Donka Sokolova, Chairperson of the Bulgarian Association of Tourist Agencies, proposed. She was among those who had predicted years ago that Bulgaria would lose about USD350MN from the introduction of VAT in tourism, and another USD167MN from the introduction of a visa regime with Russia and the Ukraine.