Calypso country report Bulgaria_pdf

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Calypso country report Bulgaria_pdf Powered By Docstoc
					Country study

May 2010

Détente Consultants


Revision      Final
Date          2010/05/12
Made by       Teodora Nedkova, Stefka Mihova
Checked by    Benabdallah Jamil/Marion Doublet
Approved by   National Contact Point


1.         Summary                                            1
2.         Focus on experiences and mechanisms for
           international exchanges                             1
3.         Analysis of the four target tourism markets         2
3.1        Structures and players                              2
3.2        Segmentation profile                                4
3.3        Existing support systems and/or mechanisms          9
3.4        Demand drivers                                     10
4.         Analysis of the tourism sector                     12
4.1        Market trends                                      12
4.2        Supply of services                                 13
4.3        Supply of services from a European point of view   14
4.4        Sustainable tourism aspects                        14
4.5        Feasibility of social tourism                      15
5.         Legislative perspectives                           15
6.         Development of products for social tourism         16
7.         Web portals                                        18

List of documents
Good practice descriptions

1.     SUMMARY
The goals of this study are to give an overview of social tourism in Bulgaria. More specifically,
existing supply and demand in this field will be listed, good practices in the country identified and
analysed in order to assess if they can potentially be transferred to other European countries in
the framework of Calypso.

Chapter 3 includes a brief description of the key stakeholders in the field of social tourism in
Bulgaria. This report only includes the main stakeholders, who could participate to the
development of this field, and that have shown willingness to participate in international
initiatives, portal, etc. This chapter also describes profiles and support mechanism of different
target groups. Latest available statistical data, reports and analyses have been used. The
information is supported by interviews with state institutions, NGOs and representatives of the
different target groups. All four groups share one common difficulty: financial constraints, which
prevent them from taking some if any vacation.
Young people in Bulgaria who are less financially secured are people up to 25 years old.
The majority of seniors in Bulgaria do not go on holiday. Families who have financial constraints
save their money to support the family, rather than taking any holiday.
Participation of disabled people in tourism is low for two major reasons: financial constraints and
lack of facilities.

Bulgaria has been well developed as a mass tourism destination. However, it is highly marked by
the seasonality aspect. The majority of interviewed people are not familiar with the notion of
social tourism. In Section 4.4, the feasibility of social tourism in Bulgaria is analysed, drawing
current lack of services and initiatives as well as potential for future developments.

Even if there is no systematic coordination and cooperation in the field of social tourism, which
constitutes a major challenge in identifying good practices, three of them have been identified.
They are summarized in chapter 2 and described in details in annexes.

Social tourism in Bulgaria is not well developed. However, there are some isolated initiatives of
different actors. Most striking examples are detailed in the annexes.

One good practice related to senior people has been identified during the research. Lukoil Jsc.
Company and Burgas Mineral Waters Prophylactics Complex cooperate in order to provide Lukoil’s
pensioners with specialised healthcare for professional diseases. The holiday is all-inclusive,
including accommodation, prescribed medical procedures and diet. The duration of the stay is 10
days minimum. This enables Lukoil Jsc. to support more than 1,000 seniors per year in Burgas

Organisations from different towns or villages may create exchange opportunities for seniors
from different regions. The collaboration could be between different enterprises or between an
enterprise and an NGO, etc. Stakeholders have to be identified in order to transfer this initiative

Regarding families in difficult social conditions, nothing has been identified in terms of good
practices and mechanisms for international exchanges.

Regarding tourism for disabled people, one good practice has been identified. “Dosed tourism” is
an initiative of the Union for Disabled people in Bulgaria. This initiative consists in excursions

organised by UDPB’s members. People travelling are people with disabilities, who become
members of the organisation.

Four types of excursions are organized:
   •    Excursions with educational purpose: cultural and historical monuments in Bulgaria,
        places related to famous people, etc;
   •    Mixed excursions with educational purpose, combined with meetings and exchanges of
        experiences between non-governmental organisations, sport or arts activities, trainings
        (travelling seminars), humanitarian activities. The spots visited are cultural and historical,
        seaside resorts, monasteries, carnivals.
   •    Excursions abroad: with educational purpose, combined with exchanges of experiences
        with similar organisations, aiming to raise awareness about European institutions and
   •    Traditional excursions: anniversary gatherings, folklore festivals, walks in the mountain,
        combined with seminars on topical issues, songs, music and dances, cooking in the air,
        sports and touristic holidays with entertainment, quizzes and awards.

This practice constitutes a good mechanism for international exchanges. It can be successfully
transferred on a European level, as a result of collaboration between NGOs from different

3.1    Structures and players

      1. The Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism

Until mid-2009, the main institution responsible for the development of state policy in tourism
was the State Agency for Tourism. It was integrated into the Ministry of Economy, Energy and
The Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism is in charge of:
    •   Developing short-term conceptions and programs for the development of tourism
    •   Proposing to the Council of Ministers strategies for the development of tourism
    •   Organising and coordinating controls on the quality of tourist products
    •   Registering tour operators and tourist agencies’ activity
    •   Categorizing tourist facilities in compliance with the law

      2. The Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism (BAAT).

BAAT encourages and supports partnerships for the sustainable development of alternative
forms of tourism at a regional and local level in order to preserve the country’s natural, cultural
and historical heritage. BAAT can be a mediator between the State and the tourist providers in
the area of social tourism. The members of BAAT (around 100) are tour operators and
accommodation places. A long-term project of BAAT supported in 2008 by Bulgarian tourism
administration is Green Lodge® - a certificate issued to guesthouses and small hotels that
corresponds to ECEAT label and Eurogites criteria for sustainable tourism.

There are no projects specifically designed for the target groups but BAAT is considered to have
the willingness and the capacity to do this.

      3. The Union for Disabled People in Bulgaria

The Union for Disabled People in Bulgaria is a non-governmental organization. It represents
and defends the interests of people with disabilities and their families. Created in 1989, it is a
union of 377 organizations and more than 42,000 individual members. In 2008 this Union

provided support to 202,000 individuals. It is the most active and the biggest organization
operating on a national level for the profit of disabled people.
There is no organization in Bulgaria specialized in tourism for disabled people. The UDPB has
tried to promote several initiatives related to tourism, but the level of involvement of the other
stakeholders was not high. It will be ready to collaborate with future initiative that would improve
the condition of people with disabilities.

     4. Bulgarian Association of Travel Agents (BATA)
BATA is a non-governmental, non-profit making organization, established in 1992 to represent
and protect the economic rights and interests of tour operators and travel agents, to support and
encourage their economic activities. This is an association of over 250 members. Regular
members are tour operators and travel agents with long-term experience in the travel industry
and proven professionalism. Affiliate members are companies and individuals, whose activities
and interests are related to tourism development. BATA members generate 75% of the incoming
tourism and 70% of the outgoing tourism of Bulgaria. The member companies are working
actively on the Romanian, German, Greek, Russian, British, Scandinavian, Spanish, Italian,
Turkish, Macedonian, etc. markets. BATA has no projects for social tourism.

     5. Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association (BHRA)
BHRA merges large and small hotels, biggest private tourist resorts, traditional, modern and
some family hotels. The association has developed regional structures throughout the whole
country. BHRA works with Bulgarian state and public organizations. It is in the process of
developing some propositions for legislation changes, related to the tourism sector in Bulgaria.
The association has already submitted its proposals to the respective public bodies. Some of the
members are hotels already working with the target groups of Calypso. The capacity of the
organisation is huge, and many of its members are believed to be interested in joining an
international system of social tourism products offer. BHRA has over 200 regular members.

     6. Bulgarian Tourism Chamber (BTC)
The Bulgarian Tourism Chamber is a non-profit organization. Founded in March 1990, it
groups, on a voluntary basis, national, regional and local brand organizations and councils,
companies from hotel & restaurant business, tour operators and agents, companies and
organizations related to tourism industry and fully capable persons. BTC performs the functions
of a non-profit federal union of Bulgarian and foreign organizations (companies). BTC has over
300 members and has shown interest to participate in social tourism developments.

     7. Prophylactics, Rehabilitation and Recreation JSC
Prophylactics, Rehabilitation and Recreation JSC is one of the biggest state tourist
organizations in Bulgaria. It encompasses 16 hotel bases situated in curative places where
natural resources – mineral waters and climate – contribute to the healing process. It is ready to
join any future initiatives in the social tourism field.

     8. National Social Security Institute
The NSSI is a public institution. Legally responsible to provide insurance, guarantees pension
and benefits rights of the entitled, it provides quality customer services and manages the state
social insurance funds. The National Social Security Institute (NSSI), through its regional offices,
manages prophylactic and Rehabilitation Cash Benefits Use and Payment for insured and disabled
people eligible to personal invalidity pension (over 70% disability and over 16 years old). In
2010, the National Social Security Institute has signed agreements with “Prophylactic,
Rehabilitation and Rest” JSC activity performers.

      9. The National Association for Child’s and Youth Tourism
There is no separate institution in charge of the development of youth tourism in Bulgaria. In
order to fill this gap, fifteen tourist companies working in the sector of youth tourism have
combined their efforts and established a non-profit organization, the National Association for
Child’s and Youth Tourism. NAYT organizes international, national and regional activities in the
field of tourism and by providing specific informational services to its members. The Association

is highly committed to developing child’s and youth tourism in Bulgaria and will support any
activity Calypso in this field. The association does not have any current or permanent project.

     10. The National Health Insurance Fund
The National Health Insurance Fund /NIHF/ is funded by National Insurance contributions.
Pensions and other benefits under the National Insurance System (NIS) are paid through this
fund. The NHIF carries out the mandatory health insurance in the country. Within the framework
of the health protection system, it provides assistance to individuals with specific needs in health
prevention and recreation.

     11. East-European Association of Balneology Spa and Wellness Tourism
The mission of the East-European association of balneology spa and wellness tourism is to assist
strategically and practically its members to develop sustainable services and travel product in the
Spa, Wellness, Balneology and Alternative Medicine Tourism. This association was created in
2008 and has 35 members so far. It is highly motivated in participating to any future
developments in the social tourism field. It is considered to be a suitable stakeholder.

     12. Regional Tourist Union
Bulgarian Tourist Union was founded on 1895. It is a non-governmental association that
promotes social tourism, more specifically active relaxation, strengthening of health,
development of educational, enrichment of personality, promotion of different types and forms of
tourism, mountaineering, orientation, alpinism, etc. “Social tourism” is here different from the
meaning used in Calypso. BTU can be used as a stakeholder with potential, although it is not a
key actor.
The regional tourist unions are part of the Bulgarian Tourist Union and own 410 tourism facilities,
219 alpine huts, 26 shelters, 33 hostels, 33 chalets and 13 camping. Members of Bulgarian
Tourist Union can be physical or Bulgarian juridical persons. Citizens interested in services
provided by BTU can join the Union through its regional units and tourist companies. Members of
Bulgarian Tourist Union take benefit from a discount: not less than 10% for the first two nights
and not less than 20% after the third and every following night. Membership in Bulgarian Tourist
Union must be renewed every year through the payment of an annual fee. Tourists use freely
kitchens, dining rooms and other common facilities.

3.2    Segmentation profile

Senior citizens
User profile (socio-         There are 2,200,595 pensioners in Bulgaria, including the early
economic profile,            retired people, according to the National Statistical Institute. Official
demographic travel           data refer to the 2008 Census Report. In Bulgaria, the legal
habits)                      retirement age is 63 year old for men and 60 year old for women.
                             The average income for a pensioner in Bulgaria is 106 euro per
                             month (1,272 euro annually).

                             Among the elderly people, different age groups can generally be
                             distinguished: the “young-old” (those aged 60-74 years) and the
                             “old-old” (those aged 75 years and over). These groups display
                             different characteristics and are not homogenous in their needs.
                             576,000 persons belong to the “old-old” category (32% of the
                             elderly) versus 1.24 million persons in the “young-old” group.

                             Representatives of the “old-old” group prefer not to leave their
                             homes and surroundings. The majority of the “young-old” group are
                             more proactive and look for opportunities to rest and take holiday.
                             The largest percentage of this group strives to combine their holiday
                             with rehabilitation and spa-tourism. Therefore, the most desirable
                             destinations are the former state balneological resorts. Private visits
                             are also popular among the senior citizens because they do not cost
                             too much and the elderly can afford a 5 to 7 days stay at their

                           relatives. Less than half of the group regularly goes hiking in the
                           This activity was widely disseminated by the Communist
                           government among the working people. As a result of this policy,
                           there is a well-established network of regional tourist unions that
                           offers tourist services in the field of hiking and trekking holidays and
                           short trips. These services are mainly used by the “young-old”
                           pensioners who used to travel thanks to these tourist societies.
Organisation               The main part of the senior citizens is interested in stays with
responsible for support    rehabilitation facilities. The National Health Insurance Fund is the
                           only public body responsible for supporting this target group.
Duration of stay           The duration of the stay differs according to the purpose of the
                           holiday. The rehabilitation stays last at least 10 days.
Main holiday               Destinations with rehabilitation services provided by balneological
destinations               resorts are the most desirable. For the last ten years, balneological
                           or spa-resorts have been booming and expanding their services.

                           The most popular destinations are the famous cultural and historical
                           centres in Bulgaria. Natural landmarks, common hiking and trekking
                           routes are also popular.
Average spending           There is no official statistical data but according to the providers of
during holidays per        accommodation services, the elderly spend 2.5-5 euro per day.
Holiday participation      The proportion of senior citizens going on holiday is 3.6% according
statistics                 to the census report of the National Statistical Institute. Most of
                           them prefer private visits (22% of the senior) and balneological
                           resorts (32.2%), while 14.7% of them go on trekking holidays. The
                           preferred accommodation for trekking holidays is mountain huts,
                           alpine and distant hotels, as well as guest-houses in small villages.
Barriers and reasons       The basic constraint for senior citizens is the lack of financial
for non-participation      resources. Another common problem identified is the lack of
                           information. Senior citizens are not aware of their rights and
                           supporting opportunities provided by the National Insurance Fund in
                           the field of prophylaxis and health prevention. The main information
                           channel is oral (relatives and neighbours).

Young people
User profile (socio-       The trips of people aged 18-25 increase gradually each year.
economic profile, travel
habit demographics)
Organisation               The State organization responsible for this target group is the
responsible for support    Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism. The National Association
                           for Child’s and Youth Tourism (NAYT) is an organization
                           representing the interests of this target group and supporting the
                           government policy in this field. NAYT supports this segment of the
                           tourist sector by elaborating and suggesting strategies projects for
                           the amendment of international and domestic regulations in the
                           field of child’s and youth tourism, by organizing international,
                           national and regional activities in the field of tourism and by
                           providing specific informational services to its members.
Duration of stay           The duration of the stays depends on the aim of the holiday.
Main holiday               The young people going on holiday can be distributed as follows
destinations               according to the type of tourism they prefer:
                                •  46.2% of people aged 18-25 go to the seaside;
                                •  29.7% of people aged 18-25 go to SPA resorts;
                                •  12.4% of people aged 18-25 practice balneotherapy


                                •   8.2% of people aged 18-25 practice another type of
                                •   3.5% of people aged 18-25 visit friends or relatives;
                                •   Spa tourism is related to improving or attending to one’s
                                    physical,   emotional,     or  spiritual   relaxation,   while
                                    balneological tourism is considered as travel for the purpose
                                    of curing disease, obtaining prescribed treatment for health
                                    conditions or rehabilitation.
                                •   39.3% of the young people on holiday have attended the
                                    same resort before, while the rest 60.7% visited it for the
                                    first time. These figures set out a trend for the
                                    establishment of certain habits in the behaviour of Bulgarian
                                    young tourists.
                                •   11.4% of the target group have used a tourist package for
                                    their trip, versus 88.6% who didn’t use any preferential
                                    tourist packages.
Average spending            There is no accurate statistics on the average spending during the
during holidays per         holidays. In general, tourists going on SPA tourism tend to have
year                        higher average expenses compared to the rest of the tourists.
Holiday participation       7.2% of the tourists going on holiday in Bulgaria are between 18 to
statistics                  25 years old. The representatives of this group prefer to go to the
                            seaside rather than to the mountain.
                            Young people at the age of 18-25 years represent:
                                •   30.4% of the Bulgarians going on holiday;
                                •   40.4% of the tourists going on the Bulgarian seaside;
                                •   14.6% of the tourists going on holiday to visit their
                                •   42.8% of the tourists going on SPA-tourism;
                                •   7.5% of the tourists going on balneological tourism;
                                •   28.9% of the tourists preferring other forms of tourism.
Barriers and reasons        The major reason identified for non-participation is low income.
for non-participation

Families facing difficult circumstances
User profile (socio-         Most of the families facing difficult circumstances in Bulgaria
economic profile, travel experience two major problems:
habit demographics)             •  Financial constraints of the family - e.g. families with one
                                   parent, disadvantaged families, etc.
                                •  Member of the family with health problems

                            No statistics are available regarding the number of these families in
                            the country.

                            Families with financial problems: In Bulgaria those families are
                            called “socially disadvantaged families”. The monthly income of
                            a member of such family is defined by the law at around 22 euro or
                            less. This shows that the state sets very low threshold for the
                            income of people under which they can receive any State support.
                            This makes it impossible for people who have income bigger than
                            this threshold to receive any support even if they also have a very
                            low living standard.

                            Families with a member with health problems:
                            Such families are usually isolated from the society. The services
                            they can receive are insufficient and ineffective despite of the

                          existing opportunities according to the law.

                          This target group has to solve very important problems before going
                          in vacation. This explains why there are no statistical data regarding
                          tourist services for this target group.
Organisation              The organisation responsible for support of the target group on
responsible for support   national level is the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. The
                          Ministry develops different policies to support individuals and
                          families with social problems.
                          Many organizations (foundations, charity organizations, etc) out of
                          the State sector offer services and support families with children in
                          a difficult social situation. The support of these organizations
                          includes humanitarian aid, financial support for provision of
                          education and social integration for the children.
                          The National Social Security Institute provides financial support for
                          health and social insured people with health problems who visit
                          rehabilitation centers.
Duration of stay          The tourist services are connected with therapeutic and medicinal
                          help for a disadvantaged member of the family. In this case, the
                          duration of stay is directly connected with a medical prescription.
                          The stay varies from 5 to 10 days. Not all of the tourist initiatives of
                          the target group are financed by the National Health Insurance
                          Fund. Some of them are financed by the target group or by
                          foundations and charity organizations.
Main holiday              Main holiday destinations can be divided in two groups:
destinations                  •    Tourist destinations with low-quality services, situated in
                                   Bulgaria (close to the place where the families live)
                                   requiring less transport, subsistence costs and reachable by
                                   train, bus or walk. The destinations are connected with
                                   cultural tourism, mountain treks, camp sites (at the seaside
                                   and in the mountains), rural tourism (related with the
                                   weekend migration of the population inside the country,
                                   when people visit their friends and relatives) and visit of
                                   nature sites in Bulgaria.
                              •    Prophylactic and Rehabilitation centers in Bulgaria, very
                                   rarely abroad. In the past, these resorts were state owned
                                   but now most of them are private.
Average spending          The average spending during holiday per year refers to one holiday
during holidays per       per year in most of the cases. To go on holiday the monthly income
year                      of a family has to be more than 255 euro. This is the reason why
                          this target group in Bulgaria can rarely afford to go on holiday.
Holiday participation     Such statistic is not available.
Barriers and reasons      For families with financial constraints, the main issue is the lack of
for non-participation     resources.
                          For families with a member with health problems:
                               •  insufficient and ineffective services (not only in the tourist
                               •  lack of well-equipped tourist centres and sites for such
                               •  financial constraints;
                               •  low standard of living;
                               •  low social integration;
                               •  medical activities are difficult to be provided.

Adults with disabilities
User profile (socio-       There is no statistics on disabled adults. The official data of the
economic profile, travel   National Statistical Institute from the last census says that the
habit demographics)        number of disabled people in Bulgaria is 450,000. According to
                           UDPB the number is over 1,100,000. There is no official register of
                           disabled people.
                           The majority of the people with disabilities in Bulgaria are not
                           integrated into the society and face a sort of isolation both in the
                           communities they live in and in the society as a whole.
                           Disabled people who receive social benefits can be subdivided into
                           three groups according to the degree of disability: 1. 50-71%; 2.
                           71-90%; 3. Over 90%. These groups receive financial support from
                           the State.
                           The average income of people with disabilities differs according to
                           the criteria of work experience: people without work experience
                           before the disability receive monthly financial support by the State
                           around 60 euro. People with work experience receive 60-65 % of
                           the salary on which they were insured, according to the Social
                           insurance code.
                           Most of the people with disabilities do not have the possibility to
                           travel or go on holiday.
Organisation               The National Social Security Institute (NSSI), through its
responsible for support    regional offices, is responsible for the payment of pensions and
                           benefits to disabled people.
Duration of stay           1-3 days
Main holiday               Disabled people in Bulgaria rarely go on holiday. The UDPB and its
destinations               members are the most active players in this field. They organize
                           tours to different places in Bulgaria and abroad, though the number
                           of such places is very small, though. In 2008-2009 the members of
                           UNDP have organized visits to 13 places in Bulgaria. Most of the
                           places are related to the history of Bulgaria, famous people and
                           contemporary heritage.
Average spending           Official statistics are not available. The observations of UNDP are
during holidays per        that the average price of the excursions organised by its members
year                       in the country is around 30 euro and around 100 euro abroad.
                           Those trips are usually sponsored. The sponsors are mainly
                           municipalities and private companies. If people pay themselves,
                           there are very big discounts and very often the transport is free,
                           ensured by the municipality or other organisations.
Holiday participation      No official statistics is available.
Barriers and reasons       There is a good legislative basis concerning disabled people but
for non-participation      practically there are no good mechanisms to coordinate and control.
                           As a consequence, the conditions for tourism of people with
                           disabilities are very bad. The main barriers for non-participation of
                           target groups in social tourism in Bulgaria are the lack of adapted
                           facilities and financial constraints. There are very few hotels that are
                           adapted for disabled people. In addition, there is the psychological
                           barrier of people with disabilities to leave their surroundings.

3.3    Existing support systems and/or mechanisms

•   Senior citizens
Concerning activities related to recreation, the main public support for senior citizens is provided
within the framework of Public Health Insurance system. The funding is provided by the National
Insurance Fund. Public funding is granted if senior citizens provide medical referral for
hospitalization on a clinical path in the field of physiotherapy and rehabilitation. The medical
referral is issued from the general practitioner of the patient. There are currently 9 clinical paths
for physiotherapy and rehabilitation. The National Health Insurance Fund provides financial
support up to 60 % of the overall expenditures for physiotherapy and rehabilitation of the patient
including accommodation, medical procedures and catering. Another requirement is that the
medical institution chosen for physiotherapy and rehabilitation has signed a contract with the
National Health Insurance Fund for providing the services included in the clinical path.
There is no state subsidy mechanism facilitating other forms of tourism for senior citizens.
Basically the support activities are provided by non-profit organizations and/or under the
framework of different European projects in the field of social inclusion of the elderly. For that
reason support activities are isolated instances. Moreover lower prices for this target group, in
particular, are offered by providers of accommodation or logistic services.

•   Young people
According to Regulation № 2 for the organization and conduction of children’s and student’s
recreation and tourism of the Ministry of Education, adopted in 1997, the organized children’s
and students’ recreation and tourism are funded by the State through the budget of the Ministry
of Education and other ministries and public bodies, from municipal budgets and from private or
own resources.

•   Families facing difficult social circumstances
Bulgarian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy develops and implements different schemes for
support of individual persons and families with social problems.
Many organizations out of the public sector offer services and support families with children in
disadvantaged social situation. These are foundations, charity organizations, etc. The support of
these organizations includes humanitarian aid, financial support for provision of education and
social integration for the children.

The National Social Security Institute (NSSI) through its regional offices financially supports
prophylactic and rehabilitation on “Prophylactic and Rehabilitation Cash Benefits Use” and
provides payments for socially insured people. In general, these are employed people for whom
insurance payments have been paid or due by their employer. This scheme provides funding for
the stays in recreation centres for sanatorium treatment, including for members of the families of
the insured person undergoing the treatment. For 2010, NSSI has contracted “Prophylactics,
rehabilitation and recreation” JSC, regulating the list of hotels that will be used in this scheme –
19 hotels and recreation centres, owned by NSSI. For 2010 the budget is cut to 6.6 million euro.
Some general financial support measures for mothers are envisaged in the Law on Family
Allowances for Children, such as one-off payments, monthly payments and some targeted
payment, all of them being very low in amount. The Law plans as well a targeted allowance for
mothers of 3 and more children over 1 year-old for free of charge travelling with the railway and
the bus transport in the country – two-way once a year.

Very small numbers of companies provide a sort of holiday vouchers for their employees. The
vouchers are only valid in the holiday homes that belong to the company and offer discounts for
the employees of the company. During the socialist period in Bulgaria most of the factories,
plants, institutions and organizations had holiday homes. There the employees together with
their families spent their summer or winter holidays. Part of the costs of these holidays was paid
by the organization-employer. After the transition from socialism to capitalism, the situation of
these holiday homes changed. Because of the bad situation of the economy, the biggest part of
these facilities was dilapidated. Later, some of them were privatized and renovated but they
cannot be real competitors to the modern tourist bases.

Now there are few holiday homes still working. The categories are not more than 3 stars. They
host not only employees of the owning company but also other people, so that they can stay
economically efficient and keep existing. The other guests of the holiday homes do not offer any
But this type of funding is usual for developed organisations, which means that their employees
are rarely members of families facing difficult social circumstances in its broad meaning.

•   Adults with disabilities
There is no additional support for people with disabilities.
The financial support is provided in three ways: 1) by the State; 2) by means of international
projects; 3) by sponsorship. The financial support from the State is not big; the project initiatives
are not many; sponsorship is very small.
Social care benefits for travel are given to disabled people depending on the degree of disability.
For people with 50-70% disability there is a monthly support for local transport at the amount of
BGN 9.75 (around 5 euro) and a free vignette for a car. People with 71- 90 % disability are also
given the right to 2 travels by train and 2 travels by bus, all over the country, but not abroad.
However, people have to finance the travel with their own resources and then attach the
payment documents to the application for social support. People with disability over 90% receive
also BGN 195 (around 100 euro) for balneological treatment once a year.

3.4    Demand drivers

Senior citizens
Constraints                   Generally financial difficulties are the main constraints for seniors.
                              The vast majority of the seniors go accompanied on holiday and the
                              lack of financial support for travelling companion is another problem
                              for them.
Needs and expectations        Senior citizens are interested in some kind of quiet and passive
in terms of destination       holiday.
Types of                      The most commonly used accommodation facilities are:
accommodation                          •   sanatoriums;
                                       •   rehabilitation centres;
                                       •   guest houses and/or hotels with 2 or 3 stars
Activities                    The target group of seniors consider as an advantage resorts with
                              natural landmarks and eco-routes nearby. Therefore the most
                              popular activities are walking, trekking and rehabilitation activities.
Specific equipment            No data available
Sensitivity to price          They prefer low-priced stays.
Seasonality aspects           Preferred season starts from April until November. The preferred
                              months are determined by the assumption that the medical
                              procedures should be done within the warm part of the year.

Young people
Constraints                   The main constraints for this target group are financial. Recent
                              researches show that the monthly income per family needs to be at
                              least 255 euro in order for the family to be able to afford to go on
                              holiday at the Bulgarian seaside for example.
Needs and expectations        The tendency for individual trips is characterized by a search of
in terms of destination       unique experiences and there are two main parameters. One is the
                              existence of a large information base for the proposed destination.
                              The other is a very good infrastructure inside the country, which
                              could provide unimpeded access to various tourist attractions.
                              Another trend among young people is to travel in shorter distances,
                              but to make more frequent trips.

Types of                     This target group uses predominantly the possibilities for
accommodation                accommodation in hotels and private rooms, and only after that the
                             accommodation at friends or family house, in holiday houses, their
                             own summer house, tent/ large flat vessel, hut or other.
Activities                   Demand for authentic experiences, including immersion in local
                             culture and closeness to nature is a priority especially among the
                             older of them. They have increasing interest in healthier lifestyles as
Specific equipment           No data available.
Sensitivity to price         There is a trend among this target group to look for the “best deal”.
                             The major pressure put on travel agents and companies that offer
                             tourist services concern the price. Most profitable are the companies
                             offering alternatives to mass tourism at competitive prices.
                             There is also requirement for individualization of trips, to which
                             tourism operators have answered with the introduction of the
                             service "do-it-yourself". This service is based on low-price airfares.
Seasonality aspects          Most people plan their holiday approximately one month before the
                             holiday. The cases of spontaneous holiday decisions are uncommon
                             and rarer are the cases of planning 2-3 months beforehand. Most
                             young people prefer to go to the seaside in the summer and to the
                             mountain in the winter.

Families facing difficult circumstances
Constraints                  The constraints for this target group are financial (lack of income),
                             lack of adequate facilities for members of the family with health
                             problems (during the stay and connected with the accessibility of
                             the tourist sites), social (the society ignores them).
Needs and expectations There is no research about the desired tourist destination among
in terms of destination      this target group.
Types of                     The preferred type of accommodation facilities are:
accommodation                     •   hotels with at least 2 or 3 stars;
                                  •   sanatoriums;
                                  •   rehabilitation centres;
                                  •   camping;
                                  •   private rented accommodations.
Activities                   The preferred activities are sport activities, visit of cultural,
                             historical and natural sites, recreation activities, prophylactics and
Specific equipment           The needed specific equipment is related with families with a
                             member with health problems. The equipment depends on the
                             different types of problems (injured sight, hearing; problems with
                             muscular apparatus; internal diseases, etc.)
Sensitivity to price         The target group is very sensitive to the price. They prefer lower
Seasonality aspects          The peak of the tourist season starts at the beginning of spring until
                             the end of autumn, but the target group would go on holiday during
                             the off-season as well.

Adults with disabilities
Constraints                      •   Financial constraints: Disabled people have very low income
                                     (around 60 euro), which is of course a barrier for people to
                                     afford travels and holidays.
                                 •   Social constraints: Lack of understanding and tolerance on
                                     the part of society. People with disabilities consider that
                                     society ignores them.

                              Common opinion is that the quality of life/integration of people with
                              disabilities requires most of all ensuring acceptance in society and
                              access to environment.
                                  •    Accessibility: The physical environment is inaccessible and
                                       hostile to people with disabilities. This is a critical problem
                                       for disabled people in Bulgaria. The inaccessibility is in
                                       terms of:
                                            - Transport: most of the local transport system is out-
                                                dated and not adapted for people with specific
                                            - Inaccessible infrastructure: sidewalks are usually not
                                                adapted for people with disabilities, many entrances
                                                of administrative buildings and living blocks of flats,
                                                chemistries’, etc. do not take into consideration the
                                                needs of disabled people.
                                            - Inaccessible cultural objects.
Needs and expectations        There is no statistics available.
in terms of destination
Types of                      There is a real need to adjust hotels and accommodation places to
accommodation                 the special needs of disabled people in Bulgaria
Activities                    Rehabilitation activities, sightseeing, walk in nature, sports
                              activities, and cultural activities.
Specific equipment            Facilities adapted for wheelchairs, adjusted buses and trains,
                              adjusted accommodation places.
Sensitivity to price          Low-priced holidays would be appropriate due to the lack of
                              financial resources.
Seasonality aspects           Preferred seasons for holidays are spring, summer and autumn.
                              Winter is not attractive due to increased problems of mobility
                              (access to transport, rain and snow), and also health issues.

4.1    Market trends

Bulgaria is a destination with attractive prices, suitable for family tourism, individual travels and
rest for senior people, mainly for seaside and mountain holidays. International tourism in
Bulgaria has been characterised by an increase of the number of foreign tourists in recent years.
In 2007 Bulgaria has been visited by 5,151,238 tourists, by 11,802,017 tourists in 2008, and by
8,966,020 tourists in 2009.

The EU countries continue to be the main providers for international tourism in Bulgaria, with a
relative share of 72.5%. The interest of countries that traditionally choose Bulgaria as a tourist
destination (Poland, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Hungary) has increased. Romania and Portugal
also tend to increase their interest in Bulgaria. Interest is also shown by Spain, France, Italy,
Cyprus, and Greece. According to the European Commission of Tourism, Bulgaria occupied the
20th place among the European tourist destinations for 2007.

The fast privatisation during the previous years in Bulgaria and the investments in a modern
tourist infrastructure created practically a totally private tourist industry in Bulgaria, offering a
modern accommodation base, attractions and services. Unfortunately the increased number of
tourists in Bulgaria is characterised by high territory dependence and seasonal aspect – 70% of
the activities are concentrated on less than 5% of the territory of the country with high seasonal
fluctuations – summer and winter being the most active.

Bulgaria has remarkable natural, cultural and historical resources for development of specialised
types of tourism, which is a precondition for change in the image of Bulgaria as a mass tourism

destination, and will cope with the seasonality. Such opportunities are rural and eco-tourism,
cultural tourism, spa and balneotherapy tourism, wine tourism, etc.

A major part of the mountain and rural areas do not have an alternative for development besides
this type of tourism. The sustainable development of alternative tourism may revitalise some of
the poorest regions of the country. During the last years, a lot of new small businesses appeared
in rural areas, like family owned hotels, guest houses or sports clubs. Buying property in
Bulgarian villages and small towns was turning into a fashion for Western Europeans.
Unfortunately, the successful tourism development and its alternative forms are seriously
threatened by the lack of subsidies, by restitution processes and old fashion management. The
development and growth of tourism are related to Bulgarian business. However there is a need of
strong governmental support to develop tourism.

During Communist period, some forms of social tourism existed and benefited by employees of
factories, enterprises, etc. The employees could go on holidays with their families, part of the
holiday being financed by the employer. At that time, foreign travel was under special
supervision and only allowed to privileged people. Still there were exchanges of youth between
socialist countries. The policy to disabled people was not developed at all in the past. Nowadays,
there is a good legislative basis and policy for disabled people, but practice is lagging behind. The
notion of “social tourism” is not really known in Bulgaria. There are some scarce practices but
there is still a lot to do.

4.2    Supply of services

There is hardly any tourist products specifically designed for the target groups of social tourism in
Bulgaria, but there is a huge potential in terms of resources to develop social tourism. All
interviewed representatives of the tourism industry believe that the initiative should come from
the State or the non-governmental sector.

The balneological tourism is one of the tourist products in the country. There are over 10 hotels
of high category that offer high quality balneological products and many resorts with mineral
waters, curative mud and curative climate. With the increase of the number of customers,
Bulgarian balneological tourism needs investments in the renovation of the hotel bases. Last
statistics available show that there are over 30 mineral waters resorts in the country.

Other products relevant to seniors and families in difficult financial conditions are hiking and
trekking products, which perfectly fit with their financial constraints.

Camping places, SPA resorts and Seaside resorts offer different accommodation places (private
and hotel based) appropriate for youth or families with low income.

Prophylactic and rehabilitation centres, mineral waters resorts, and Black sea resorts with
curative mud offer products matching disabled people need. Unfortunately, there are no
particular services and products in the country that are specifically designed for disabled people.
Tourist agencies do not offer separate packages for people with disabilities. Some social care
benefits for travel are given to disabled people (depending on the degree of disability), and
concern only travels within the country, not abroad. The capacity to meet the needs of disabled
people is very low. Buses are not adapted, and only the morning train at central railway station is
adapted to disabled people. Airlines are currently the only means of transport that offer
satisfactory facilities for disabled people. Most buildings and hotels do not meet the requirements
for disabled people but they can be adapted. This process needs to be activated in the country.
There is a real need to raise awareness both in the public and in the private sectors. There are
not many funding opportunities available for investments in hotels. European funded rural
development program should be provided to small hotels and guesthouses only if these facilities
are accessible to disabled people.

Tourist agencies offer a wide range of possibilities for mass tourism during summer and winter.
Big agencies usually work with standardized products, while smaller organisations offer tailor

made products as well. There is a rising tendency for individualized products. Airlines sometimes
offer discounts for the youth and sometimes seniors, but not for disabled or socially
disadvantaged people. There are no annual discount programs, but mainly occasional
promotions. Regarding bus excursions, when the whole package is organised by travel agencies,
some discounts can be made, thanks, again, to the flexibility of smaller agencies. Bulgarian
railways offer discounts for families, the biggest discounts being for the families of their
employees. Seniors also use 50% discount for travelling with railways. This discount is only valid
for Bulgarian citizens.

During off-season holidays, or for early bookings, customers may use discounts. However, there
are no regulated thresholds; all depends on the negotiated conditions. Nevertheless, unofficially,
regarding early bookings, a discount of 10-20% is reasonable; for off-season holiday a discount
of 30-50% can be made. Off-season discounts are more applicable to mountain resorts as most
of the seaside hotels do not work off-season due to lack of customers. SPA hotels are open
during the whole year and discounts are usually low. All hotels offer discounts for families with
children. Usually, children under 12 years pay 50% of the price for an adult. Very often, the
accommodation for the second child is free of charge.

4.3    Supply of services from a European point of view

The supply of products and services in social tourism in Bulgaria specifically designed for the
target groups of Calypso is rather limited. On the other hand many of the existing tourist services
in general can be appropriate for European population from the four target groups. There are
balneological products of very good quality in the different resorts suitable for senior people, and
people who experience some disability or health discomfort. The product is not characterised by
peak seasons, it is available and exploited during the whole year. Prophylactics and rehabilitation
centres are also appropriate for any person who experiences some kind of health discomfort, but
they are managed by the State and are currently national products offered to Bulgarian people.
When asked for the transferability of these products to European level, Rehabilitation and
Prophylactics organizations indicate willingness for European collaboration but emphasize the fact
that this would happen only through contracts with the Social Ministry in Bulgaria.

Mass tourism represented by seaside and winter resorts offers different opportunities for the
target groups as far as the relatively cheap price level in Bulgaria in comparison to other
European countries is concerned. Alternative tourism in all its forms, mainly rural and mountain
tourism, can also offer products suitable to other Europeans from the target groups on a very
reasonable price.

The problems that may hinder social tourism in Bulgaria are related to the accessibility of
transport and the facilities in hotels for senior and disabled people. To adapt hotels and most of
the transportation network, investments are needed and have to be supported by the State or
European Funds.

4.4    Sustainable tourism aspects

Bulgaria has experienced tourism growth in recent years and therefore the Bulgarian government
has announced the sustainable tourism as a priority of national importance. As a result, a
National Strategy for Sustainable Tourism Development for the years 2009 to 2013 was
elaborated. Nevertheless, efforts of the Government to develop responsible tourism have
remained in the sphere of policy making and elaboration of strategic documents. Municipalities
and entrepreneurs have shown on the contrary more interest in the different forms of sustainable
tourism. For the last ten years, a large number of projects have been implemented in Bulgaria,
aiming at the development of alternative and eco-tourism, since both are considered to be the
basic forms of the sustainable tourism. The projects have been implemented with the financial
support of the European Pre-accession and Structural Funds.

More than 33% of the territory of Bulgaria is included within Natura 2000 network. Bulgaria also
has three National Parks – Rila, Pirin and Central Balkans. They belong to the state, and are

managed and administered by Directorates, operating under the Ministry of Environment and
Waters. Management Plans for Rila and Central Balkan are the first modern conservation
management documents of their kind in the Balkans. These parks have borders with 24
municipalities of 600,000 people overall (approximately 7.5% of Bulgaria’s population).

Green Lodge® is a long-term project of the Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism
(BAAT) supported in 2008 by Bulgarian tourism administration. It is a certificate issued to
guesthouses and small hotels that corresponds to ECEAT label and Eurogites criteria for
sustainable tourism. Hosts of these houses are local people who have special interests into local
nature and culture. They guide tourists to interesting sites and events in the surroundings and
enrich the tourist experience. Such “green houses” are located in small towns and villages in the
rural areas.

4.5    Feasibility of social tourism

Tourist industry in Bulgaria has been well operating. However, it is mainly based on mass
tourism. Social tourism in terms of Calypso has a biggest potential if it is developed during off-
season, bearing in mind the financial constraints of the target groups. In this respect, the number
of stakeholders increases, as tourist organisations and hotels would be interested to extend their

Generally speaking, most interested stakeholders are currently the various non-governmental
organisations working in this field. Tourist operators are rather passive, though when asked all of
them have a positive attitude about the development of social tourism and are willing to
participate to the implementation of a programme. All interviewed hotels and tourist
organisations show interest in joining an international tourist portal.

Many of the interviewees believe that awareness raising campaign of existing possibilities among
the target groups and the stakeholders has to be made, as the lack of awareness is a major
constraint. All interviewees believe that the major barrier to develop social tourism is the lack of
public grants. They also believe that this kind of tourism can only be developed with a strong
government support. They also raise the point that it should be done in collaboration with NGOs.

The Law on Tourism, which handles management and control measures in the tourism field,
regulates tourism sector in Bulgaria.

The notion of “Social tourism” is legally defined in another legal act – the Law on Physical
Education and Sports. According to this definition, it is a form of outdoor physical activity
improving physical working capacity and emotionally enriching through organization of leisure
time, recreation, rest and physical rehabilitation of citizens. In compliance with the provisions of
the law, social tourism shall be supported and encouraged by the state and municipalities, which
create and maintain recreation areas, health paths, sports grounds and appropriate infrastructure
as mountain huts, camp sites and shelters. Such facilities are available along few walking paths
in the Bulgarian mountains, some of it being funded under European projects and programs.
The Minister of Education, Youth and Science shall define the mandatory requirements for
carrying out youth tourism organized by educational institutions and supportive bodies.
Furthermore, pursuant to the Law on Physical Education and Sports, employers can provide
infrastructures for sports and social tourism. Tourist associations also administer social tourism
through organizing tourism activities, managing tourist huts, houses and dormitories, promoting
eco-tourism and contributing to environment protection. On a legal perspective, although there is
a set of legal framework (outlined above) and a definition of “social tourism” more needs to be
done on establishing the concrete mechanism that should sustain these projects.

A regulation from national legislation establishes a restriction on tourism opportunities for one
target group. Indeed, according to the Regulation for Implementation of the Law on Social
Support, individuals and families who have a monthly income is lower than a defined threshold
are entitled to public financial support under particular circumstances and conditions. One of the
conditions however is that entitled people shouldn’t have travelled abroad on own expenses over
the past 12 months prior to applying for public financial support (art. 11, par. 7 from the
Regulation for Implementation of the Law on Social Support). The only justified exclusion from
that rule is travelling abroad on purpose of medical treatment or on occasion of death of a family
member. This legislative provision directly restricts any travel abroad of socially disadvantaged
people with low income, receiving financial support from the state. There are cases in which
people relying on public financial support cannot get advantage of even one-day travels abroad
to neighbour countries at a very low price, and are prevented from having an international

The development of concrete products for supporting social tourism has to take into account all
challenges and opportunities for future development.

Main challenges for social tourism in Bulgaria:
   •   There is no wide-scale analysis or research on the needs of the target groups related to
       social tourism. The demand is therefore not defined properly.
   •   Target groups have very low income and cannot afford self-financed tours or holidays.
   •   Target groups are generally unaware of European practices.
   •   No government support for the target groups, except the financial support regulated in
       Acts and decrees. There is a general lack of commitment from the government, and no
       systematic measures in relation to the target groups.
   •   Social tourism is a very new and unexplored field in Bulgaria.
   •   No unified policy and vision of the stakeholders, even amongst associations
   •   Limited cooperation with EU organisations as a whole.
   •   Limited exchanges and involvement in EU programs and initiatives (only “Youth in Action”
   •   Lack of financial resources for renovation of existing facilities that could be appropriate
       for the target groups.

On the other hand, there is a real potential in terms of resources. Many balneological and seaside
resorts are appropriate to the different target groups. Rural, eco and mountain tourism are also
opportunities that can be used for the development of social tourism, regarding the low costs
required. Structures already exist, such as different associations in Bulgaria with hundreds of
members, who are willing to be involved in the development of social tourism.

The demand supply gap in terms of social tourism is huge. Almost nothing is done to offer
tourism opportunities to target groups other than standardised products. Social tourism is not
developed at all, the majority of people are not aware of what it refers to. The demand is not
defined properly as stakeholders and target groups are not aware of the existence of such
opportunities. This situation is not expected to really change in the near future, unless good
practices or initiatives from Europe are disseminated in the country and, most of all, if there is no
Government support in terms of policies and measures.

One of the main recommendations expressed by interviewees was the promotion and marketing
of social tourism and practices at a national scale. Both stakeholders and target groups have to
become aware of existing opportunities. Massive awareness raising campaigns are needed in
order to remove information barriers and promote positive attitude towards target groups and
social tourism.

All stakeholders indicated that financial support has to be ensured by Government or by any
funding mechanism. All interviewees suggested that the initiative should come from stakeholders
outside the tourist industry and tourist operators would respond and support it.

Other recommendations concerned the training of staff in tourism industry. Improvement is
needed in terms of animation and guiding.

A very interesting recommendation that deserves consideration was directed towards the
business. It concerned the conduction of campaigns by big corporations to support target groups,
in order to show that organisations are socially responsible. It shows social corporate
responsibility, it is also a mechanism to raise awareness, and a way to attract funding for social


                                                This website provides information about
                                                Bulgaria: basic data about the country,
                                                Bulgarian landmarks, history, culture and
                                                tradition. It offers interesting destinations,
                                                transport and telecommunications. It
                                                shows tourism diversity in terms of sea
                                                recreation, cultural tours and rural
                                                tourism, skiing, congress and business,
                                                balneological,      SPA     and     wellness,
                                                ecotourism, etc.
                                                This is a website which gives information
                                                on the history and culture of Bulgaria, the
http://www.bulgarian-                           climate, historical monuments and natural   landmarks. It offers many sea, mountain,                                   and SPA resorts, destinations for eco and
                                                rural tourism. The visitors can also see
                                                useful links and travel agencies.
                                                This is a popular site enabling the booking
                                                and/or the buying of tourism products. It
                                                suggests tickets, hotels, holidays and
                                                excursions in Bulgaria and abroad,
                                                showing also the prices of organised



Name of the        Position            Organisation         Type of            Interview date
interviewee                                                 organisation
Mr. Kotsev         Chairperson         Union for            NGO                05.02.2010
                                       Disabled People
                                       in Bulgaria
Petya Miteva       Senior expert       Union for            NGO                09.02.2010
                   Information         Disabled People
                   service             in Bulgaria
Vanja Ninovska     Managing            Via Terra Ltd.       Tour Agency        09.02.2010
Elena Anastasova   Coordinator         ‘Zaedno–             NGO                10.02.2010
                                       for Support and
Mr. Jordanov       Manager of          Bulgarian            Non-               11.02.2010
                   Department          Tourist Union        government,
                   Chalets                                  Non-profit
Mrs. Miroslava     Managing            Advantis Travel      Private, Profit,   12.02.2010
Tacheva            Director            Ltd.                 Travel agency
Kiril Kaloyanov    Secretary           Bulgarian            NGO                12.02.2010
                                       Association for
Mrs. Gina Shoeva   President           National             Association        12.02.2010
                                       Association for
                                       Child’s and Youth
Adriana Yotova     Tourist expert      Sim Travels Ltd.     Tour Operator      12.02.2010
Tanya Lazarova     Tour     operator   Hadji Tour           Travel agency      15.02.20110
                   and manager         Blagoevgrad Ltd

Mr. Karov          Managing            Specialized          Specialized
                   Director            Rehabilitation       Rehabilitation
                   Doctor in charge    Hospitals –          Hospital
                                       National Center
                                       Jsc, branch
                                       Banite, Smolyan
Mrs. Svidna        Managing            Loyal Travel Ltd.    Travel Agency      19.02.2010
Dineva             Director
Petko Ivanov       Vice Director       Smart Travel         Travel Agency      22.02.2010
Yulian Stoyanov    Expert              Prophylactics,       State enterprise   25.02.2010
                                       rehabilitation and
                                       Recreation JSC.
Rumiana Popova     Secretary           Bulgarian Hotel      Association        25.02.2010
                                       and Restaurant
Plamena            Consultant          ESH Study            Travel agency,     25.02.2010
Stoyanova                              Abroad, as           member of BATA
                                       representative of
Cvety Milanova     Director            East-European        NGO                05.03.2010
                                       Association of
                                       Balneology Spa
                                       and Wellness



  •   Analysis of the situation of people with disabilities in Bulgaria, Complex analytical report,
      Project BG 2006/018-343.05.01, “SKG – Club 2000 – BP” Alliance, June 2009

  •   Strategy for development of services for children and families in Sofia, 2003-2005,
      Project “Reform for Improving the well-being of children in Bulgaria”, Ministry of Labour
      and Social Policy

  •   Social Benefits Act, Republic of Bulgaria

  •   Physical Exercise and Sports Act, Republic of Bulgaria

  •   Integration of People with Disabilities Act, Republic of Bulgaria

  •   Strategy for the development of Physical Exercise and Sports Act 2006-2010, Republic of

  •   Tourism Act, Republic of Bulgaria

  •   National Strategy for Sustainable Development of Tourism of the Republic of Bulgaria
      2009-2013, Council of Ministers and State Agency for Tourism

  •   Summer Vacation of Bulgarian Citizens, State Agency for Tourism, 2008

  •   Foreign Visits in Bulgaria, State Agency for Tourism, 2008

  •   Tourist Trips of Bulgarian Residents, Third Quarter 2009, National Statistical Institute

  •   Research on Foreign visits in Bulgaria and Travels of Bulgarians in the country, summer
      2009, National Statistical Institute

  • – National Statistical Institute


Lukoil social policy and health care for pensioners
Name of the expert          Stefka Mihova
conducting research
Country                     Bulgaria
Respondents/informants Burgas Mineralni Bani Prophylactic Complex, Burgas District

Target group involved:     Senior citizens early retired.
                           Pensioners need to meet the following eligibility criteria:
                             1. The person has not used the services of the Specialized
                           Rehabilitation Hospital for one year;
                             2. The person has been an employee of Lukoil Jsc. for more than
                           10 years and had retired there;
                             3. The person has been registered in Pensioners’ and Veteran’s
                           Club for pensioners in Burgas (municipal public organisation).
Description of exchange:   Lukoil Jsc. Company has contracted the BMB Prophylactic Complex
                           in order to provide their pensioners with specialised healthcare of
                           acquired professional diseases.
                           The BMB Prophylactic Complex is a highly specialized facility
                           providing primary and secondary physioprophylaxis comprehensive
                           treatment and rehabilitation. There are indoor and outdoor
                           swimming pools, tangentor bathtubs, balneo and pelotherapy
                           facilities. The Complex is situated in a famous balneo-resort.
                           Hydrothermal resources, along with the sea-climate represent
                           indispensable therapeutic, health enhancing and recreation factors.
                           The holiday is all-inclusive and includes accommodation, prescribed
                           medical procedures and diet. The duration of the stay is not less
                           than 10 days.
                           The preferred time for holidays is off-season – spring and autumn.
                           In this way Lukoil Jsc. supports more than 1 000 seniors in Burgas
                           region on annual basis.

Handling of target group   The social policy of Lucoil Jsc. aims at providing their former and
needs:                     current employees with services in rehabilitation and prevention.
                           Their social partners are the Bulgarian petroleum employees union
                           and the Veterans’ Club for pensioners in Burgas. The BMB
                           Prophylactic Complex has highly qualified healthcare professionals
                           with special medical education, with rich experience and trained to
                           work with good modern equipment. All types of procedures
                           associated with the disease profile are delivered by approved
                           treatment protocols.
Description of support     The social partner of Lukoil Jsc. in the organisation of holidays and
mechanisms                 selection of participants is the regional Pensioners’ Club. The
                           selection is centralised and the Managing Body of the Veterans’
                           Club for pensioners evaluates the applicants.
Description of funding     There is no public support. Services provided by BMB
mechanisms:                Prophylactorium Complex are free of charge for the target group.
                           Lukoil Jsc. covers all costs including accommodation, three medical
                           procedures per day and catering. Travel costs and resort fees are
                           not reimbursable, the resort fee being around 1 EUR a day.
Lessons learned            The presented good practice is an interesting mechanism for
                           financial support of senior citizens and meets their needs in
                           recreation and professional disease treatment. It would be possible
                           to develop a strategy for a tourist exchange supported by
                           organizations similar to the ones participating in this funding

                           mechanism. Organisations from different towns or villages may
                           create exchange opportunities for seniors from different regions.
                           The collaboration could be between different enterprises or
                           between an enterprise and an NGO, etc.
                           Transferring this initiative on international level would not be easy,
                           as it would be difficult to identify the relevant stakeholders.

Dosed tourism
Name of the expert         Teodora Nedkova
conducting research
Country                    Bulgaria

Respondents/informants     Union for Disabled People in Bulgaria (UDPB)
                           Mr. Kotsev

Target group involved:     Target groups are people with disabilities. There is no restriction
                           (regarding the kind of disability or any other criteria).
Description of exchange:   One very successful activity in the recent years is the so called
                           “dosed tourism”. Those are excursions organised by UDPB’s
                           members. People travelling are people with disabilities who
                           become members of the organisations (or volunteer assistants)
                           and pay membership, used to finance similar initiatives. Below are
                           examples from 2008-2009:
                               1) Excursions with educational purpose: 1 to 3 days to
                                   cultural and historical monuments in Bulgaria, places
                                   related to famous people, etc. Often those excursions are
                                   devoted to anniversaries (of UNDP and other national
                               2) Mixed excursions: Those are organised with educational
                                   purpose, combined with meetings and exchange of
                                   experience between non-governmental organisations,
                                   sports or art activities, trainings (travelling seminars),
                                   humanitarian purposes. The visiting places are again
                                   cultural and historical ones, seaside resorts, monasteries,
                                   carnivals. The exchange of experience is usually related to
                                   the achievements in the defence of people with disabilities’
                                   rights. The travelling seminars are being devoted to the
                                   novelties in the norms and Acts, social services and other
                                   concrete topics. Humanitarian excursions aim at visiting
                                   different social houses for people with disabilities and
                                   making donations. These are usually organised in different
                                   holidays. Often the meetings between the organisations
                                   are accompanied with performances of their choirs, sports
                                   activities and other initiatives.
                                   The UDPB has organised many national projects through
                                   training seminars in the whole country at places that are
                                   strategic to tourism. The training is always combined with
                                   visits of interesting places.
                               3) Excursions abroad – with educational purpose, combined
                                   with exchange of experience with similar organisations,
                                   aiming at awareness rising about European institutions and
                                   practices. Those excursions are not many. The major
                                   destinations are Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Romania,
                                   Belgium, and Turkey.

                               4) Traditional excursions: traditional national tourist gathering
                                  in the Rhodopean mountain, anniversary gatherings,
                                  folklore festivals, walks in the mountain, combined with
                                  seminars on topical issues, songs, music and dances,
                                  cooking in the air, sports and tourist holidays with
                                  entertainment, quizzes and awards.
Handling of target group   The members of UDPB organise the tours and provide volunteers
needs:                     to support people with disabilities.

Description of support     UDPB’s members interact with municipalities that generally provide
mechanisms                 free transport for the tours organised.
                           Some organisations have their own buses to ensure people’s
                           UDPB ensures big discounts for accommodation as well.
Description of funding     Sponsorships, own funds of the UDPB’s members.

Lessons learned            Besides the fact that dosed tourism has proved to really benefit the
                           target groups, one of the main lessons learnt is that the most
                           successful and useful excursions are the ones involving exchange
                           of experience with other organisations and people. The practice
                           also proved that excursions have a greater impact when they
                           combine a cultural and an entertainment aspect: sports and art
                           activities, quizzes, music, etc. Mixed excursions are more and more
                           popular as they ensure diversity and are very precious for future
                           developments and activities of the stakeholders.

“Prophylactic and Rehabilitation Cash Benefits Use”
Name of the expert         Katya Sarbova
conducting research
Country                    Bulgaria

Respondents/informants     National Social Security Institute
                           NSSI- HEAD OFFICE
                           62-64 Al. Stambolijsky Bul.

Target group involved:     Adults with disabilities or other health problems (and Families
                           facing difficult circumstances as support for their member with
                           health problems).
                           The National Social Security Institute (NSSI), through its regional
                           offices, funds the balneological treatment in the framework of
                           rehabilitation on the “Prophylactic and Rehabilitation Cash Benefits
                           Use” program for the following individuals:
                           1. Insured for all social security risks;
                           2. Insured for all social security risks except accidents at work and
                           professional disease and unemployment;
                           3. Insured for all social security risks except unemployment;
                           4. Insured for invalidity, old age, decease and accidents at work
                           and professional disease, in case of accident at work and
                           professional disease only;
                           5. People eligible to personal invalidity pension need to meet the
                           following conditions: they have not completed the age for
                           retirement, they are not insured and the decision of the Regional
                           Medical Expert Commission is still valid.

Description of exchange:   The exchange is local and/or regional. The National Social Security
                           Institute (NSSI), through its regional offices, realizes the activity
                           on prophylactic and rehabilitation under Regulation № 1 of
                           February 13th, 2007 on Prophylactic and Rehabilitation Cash
                           Benefits Use and Payment (Promulgated in State Gazette, number
                           17, 2007 for the determined contingent of persons.
                           Persons are eligible to one-time cash grant per annum for
                           prophylactic and rehabilitation for stay duration from 10 to 15
                           When reservations for the possible sanatoriums are made,
                           participants should be made aware of:
                                  1. Conditions and sequence of balneological treatments to
                           follow in order to obtain financial support
                                  2. Treated diseases and contra-indications for medical
                           treatment at the chosen balneological resort, as doctors only
                           prescribe a type of treatment and do not suggest exact sanatorium
                           or prophylactic and rehabilitation center.
                           The peak season is during the summer and winter holidays, where
                           more people can manage to go to such places with their families.
                           But during the rest of the year, some people go there as well.
                            Necessary documents in order to issue a certificate on prophylactic
                           and rehabilitation cash grant use:
                            1. Medical direction issued by a general practitioner. Medical
                           direction should be issued not earlier than 30 calendar days before
                           entry date at the respective prophylactic and rehabilitation activity
                            2. Identity card.
                            3. Standard document certifying person’s insurance rights.
                            4. Personal ambulatory card and/or medical documentation,
                           certifying person’s present and past health condition –medical
                           diagnoses, check-up, photographs, electrocardiograms and other
                           documents according to the specific case.
                            5. People with permanent reduced work capacity of 50% and over
                           50 % have to produce an expert decision proving their condition.
                            6. Victims of work accident need to produce the decision on the
                           recognized work accident.
                            7. People with professional disease need to produce an expert
                           decision on professional disease reeducational issued by the
                           Territorial Medical Expert Commission or by the National Medical
                           Expert Commission.

Handling of target group        -   Accessibility,
needs:                          -   Social support
                                -   Psychological support.
Description of support     Involved steak-holders are NSSI, 52 prophylactic and rehabilitation
mechanisms                 activity performers, Specialized Rehabilitation Hospitals, Military
                           Medicine Academies, several hotels and resort complexes. These
                           centres have signed a contract with NSSI for provision of
                           rehabilitation services to the pointed target groups.
                           This programme plans a budget of EUR 6.6 mln. for 2010, which
                           will be sufficient for the stay of around 32 000 people. In 2009 the
                           funding for the programme was EUR 13.24 mln. and 57 490 people
                           benefited from the programme.
                           From 2010, the NSSI programme “Prophylactic and Rehabilitation
                           Cash Benefits Use” will only fund stays in NSSI owned bases (19
                           holiday homes owned by the legal entity „Prophylactic,
                           Rehabilitation and recreation” JSC).
                           Due to the actual crisis activities under the described programme
                           will be conducted in companies owned by NSSI. In 2009, 64 hotels

                         and holiday bases (some of them owned by private companies)
                         worked under this programme and had contracts with NSSI.
                         “Prophylactic, Rehabilitation and recreation” JSC is the public
                         company owning this kind of facilities. Part of the facilities and
                         bases of the company are far from the standard of luxury resorts
                         and hotels located at the seaside and in the mountains. They
                         require an important renovation. However, NSSI programme
                         managed to fill and use these facilities.
Description of funding   Funding is provided by the state, through the NSSI. The institute
mechanisms:              pays a part of the costs for each stay of the beneficiary.
                         The cash amount granted for each eligible person includes:
                         1. Resources for no more than 5 basic diagnostics and therapeutic
                         procedures per diem (including medical examinations and check-
                         up); therapeutic procedures and basic diagnostics are totally
                         granted by NSSI.
                         2. Resources for a night’s lodging. Prices are determined according
                         to the agreement between NSSI and legal entities; the
                         accommodation is totally granted by NSSI;
                         3. Partial nutrition cash grant of EUR 2.5 per diem. For entry and
                         leaving days, the National Social Security Institute pays EUR 2.5 of
                         partial nutrition cash grant.
                         Beneficiary covers the rest of the costs.
Lessons learned          This practice works since 2007. During this period, the financial
                         support and the number of recreation centres that have signed a
                         contract with the NSSI for this programme have increased. This
                         proves how well this working and shows that beneficiaries are
                         using it.
                         There are no favoured categories among the ones listed above who
                         can use the described services funded by NSSI. In 2009, 57 940
                         people used this programme.
                         Though the programme is working very well, its budget for 2010
                         will be reduced because of the crisis in Bulgaria. From 2010, the
                         programme will only fund the stays in NSSI owned bases, as they
                         cost less. Thus, NSSI will try to cope with the small budget and to
                         allow more people to use opportunities for cheaper rehabilitation
                         and/or prophylactic.