Macro: Tourism laws

Fri, Feb 19 2010 8735 Views 3 Comments
For a country that relies so heavily on tourism revenue and wants to promote itself as an affordable destination, Bulgaria’s legislative framework in that area is exceedingly poor. Hardly a month goes by without some tourism industry bigwig championing the cause of a complete re-do.

The current law has been amended 17 times, but none of the changes have made life easier for the businesses operating in the sector. Many of the numerous industry associations have criticised it as doing more harm than good.

A new bill, for which the industry has been invited to submit their proposals, is expected to be on lawmakers’ desks by end-September, just in time for the autumn session of Parliament, the Deputy Economy Minister in charge of tourism, Ivo Marinov, said on February 17.

Now, it is no secret that laws in Bulgaria have their deficiencies and sometime appear to be written with built-in loopholes the size of a barn. But even a good law is no use when there is no proper oversight of its implementation or, worse yet, the powers that be can so easily be made to look the other way.

Parliament can draft the best act possible, the kind that is cut in stone and passed down to future generations to wonder in amazement at its perfection, but without proper enforcement, Bulgaria’s tourism industry is unlikely to achieve improved customer satisfaction. (Although one suspects that even perfect laws and perfect service will not stop the torrent of "horror stories" in certain three- and four-letter-named British dailies).

It is unfortunate that Bulgaria’s tourism sector chooses to point the accusing finger elsewhere and does not take a better look at the state it is in. A badly-written law is not the reason for the appalling quality of service that can still be encountered in Bulgarian resorts. Conversely, a well-written one will not rid the Bulgarian countryside of all the illegal construction.

Bulgarian politicians like to talk about the importance of Bulgarian tourism, but rarely do anything to improve the customer experience – drafting a new law and hoping that this act alone will cure all ills is not the answer.

Old laws, new laws, what is the difference when enforcement is so poor?