Bulgaria’s Tourism Ministry said on November 30 that it has secured an additional 50 million leva in funding from the Finance Ministry to assist tour operators and travel agents affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The money was separate from the 10 million leva allocated under the EU funds operational programme for innovation and competitiveness, allocated earlier this year, the ministry said in a statement.
The Tourism Ministry said that the money would be allocated as grants, but only companies with no tax arrears would be eligible to receive assistance.
The application procedures were still being finalised, but the main criterion for the state aid would be the companies’ turnover in 2019, the ministry said, without giving further details.
Tourism Minister Mariana Nikolova announced the upcoming grant scheme during a meeting with several industry groups to discuss a number of challenges faced by the sector during the pandemic.
The industry representatives asked for a further extension of the period to refund cancelled travel packages, arguing that it would relieve part of the pressure on the tourism sector, the ministry said.
Bulgaria is already subject to an EU infringement procedure on that issue, with the European Commission arguing last month that the country was in breach of bloc’s package travel rules because the 12-month refund date was “far beyond the 14-day period” stipulated in the EU directive.