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home     Tourism Law, Part 1
Tourism Law, Part 1
Chapter 1

Art. 1. (1) This law defines and regulates tourism management in Bulgaria in terms of relations between the state, municipalities and other entities in tourism-related activities.

(2) Council of Ministers determines state policies in the sphere of tourism.

(3) State institutions use their rights to execute state policies in the sphere of tourism and to create conditions for its development.

Art. 2. The aim of this law is to:
1. ensure conditions for tourism development and distinguish it as an economic sector of major importance;

2. introduce unified criteria for the provision of tourism services;

3. ensure consumer protection in the sphere of tourism;

4. determine the rights and obligations of all entities involved in the sphere of tourism;

5. regulate control over tourism activities and over the quality of the tourism product.

Art. 3. (1) The law regulates tourism as a totality of specific business activities, trips, participations in culture events, forums and other events executed in tourism sites and other locations that target the creation, presentation and consumption of good and services that form the national tourism product.

(2) The following are considered tourism activities:
1. the activities of tour operators and tourism agents;

2. hotel and restaurant activity;

3. the provision of additional tourism services.

(3) The following are considered tourism sites:
1. Shelters and accommodation premises like hotels, hostels, villa and tourism complexes;

2. Other shelters like hostels, rest stations, family hotels, apartments, rooms, villas, houses, bungalows and camping sites;

3. Entertainment spots and restaurants, fast food places, cafés, bars and sweet shops;

4. Places used for the provision of information, tour operator and tour agency activities;

5. Beaches near sea, rivers and lakes and beaches near artificial water bodies like dams and swimming pools;

6. Ski tracks for the practice of various winter sports among which alpine skiing, snowboarding and ski running;

7. Centers that offer additional tourism services like spa, sports and entertainment options;

8. Museums, preserves, monuments of culture and of Bulgaria’s historic heritage as mentioned in culture monuments and museum regulations, as well as culture institutes as mentioned in culture preservation and development regulations;

9. National parks, nature parks, preserves, protected areas and nature landmarks as defined in protected territory laws;

10. Huts, instruction centers, tourism shelters and feeding places inside huts and mountain shelters.

(4) Tourism is of several types:
1. vacation;

2. cultural and historic;

3. ecological;

4. health and spa;

5. sport;

6. rural;

7. business and conventional;

8. other types.

Art. 3a. (1) The law forbids the refusal of provision of tourism services in sites mentioned in art. 3 (3), as well as the provision of lower quality services based on art. 4 (1) of the law against discrimination.

(2) Entities and individuals that offer tourism services in sites mentioned in art. 3 (3) are obliged to announce prices that are equal for all tourists. The law forbids the different treatment of tourists based on art. 4 (1) of the law against discrimination.

(3) Conditions under point (2) apply in cases when the prices for tourism services have been mentioned online, in promotional booklets and in television and radio broadcasts.

Art. 4. The state executes policies in the sphere of tourism through:
1. cooperates in the development of the sector and its recognition as economic activity of major importance;

2. creates legal framework needed for the development of tourism, in accordance to international norms, regulations and practices;

3. ensures financial resources and executes marketing and promotion campaign that popularize the national tourism product;

4. creates conditions for the development of vacation, cultural and historic, eco, health, spa, sport, rural, conventional and other types of tourism;

5. manages and controls the quality of the tourism product;

6. gets involved in international cooperation in the sphere of tourism.

Chapter 2

Part I
State Institutions

Art. 5. (1) The State Agency for Tourism (SAT) will act as a specialized Council of Ministers institution responsible for the management, coordination and control in the sphere of tourism.

(2) SAT is a legal entity that gets budget funding and is based in the capital of Sofia.

(3) A chairperson control the work of the agency. The chairperson is selected via decision of the Council of Ministers.

(4) The activities, structure, organization of work of the agency are regulated through guidelines and a statute-book accepted by the Council of Ministers and suggested by the SAT chairperson.

Art. 5a. (1) SAT’s chairperson executes state management in the sphere of tourism through the following:
1. creation of short-term concepts and projects for the development of tourism and the creation of a tourism development strategy that is to be presented to the Council of Ministers;

2. organization and control over the quality of the tourism product; responsibility for the registration of tour operators and tourism agencies and the categorization of landmarks as defined by law;

3. work on the execution of the annual program for spending of state funds on tourism development, including the annual program for national tourism marketing;

4. execution of state policies targeting better instruction and higher qualification of employees in the sphere of tourism;

5. aid in the attraction of investment and the execution of tourism development projects on the national, regional and municipal level; cooperation in the construction and maintenance of the infrastructure connected to the tourism sector;

6. work with local self-governance bodies and administration on determining rights and obligations in the sphere of tourism;

7. representation of Bulgaria in front of international institutions and organizations in the sphere of tourism, coordination of Bulgaria’s duties resulting from the country’s membership in international institutions and organizations;

8. participation in the creation, evaluation and control over the execution of projects that receive European Union and international organization funding;

9. methodical control over the activity of regional and local tourism information centers;

10. cooperation with institutions and organization of joint activities targeting improvements in the various types of tourism;

11. organization and maintenance of a unified tourism information system, including the National Tourism Register;

12. management of the National Tourism Council;

13. issuing of regulations and guidelines for the activities of the expert committee for registration of tour operators and tourism agencies and the expert commission for categorization of tourism sites; organization and management of their activities;

14. interaction with commerce and economy bodies of diplomatic missions to Bulgaria, targeting the popularization of the national tourism product abroad; coordination of the activities of Bulgarian cultural institutes abroad that target the popularization of the Bulgarian cultural and historic heritage;

15. provision of information services and the preparation of national participation in fairs and events connected to the tourism sector;

16. work and participation in projects in the sphere of tourism;

17. cooperation with the consumer protection commission and presentation of an annual report on tourism control to the Council of Ministers;

18. annual presentation to the Council of Ministers of a report on the activities of the agency.

(2) SAT’s chairperson is the person responsible for the distribution of budget funds.

Art. 6. (1) The regional governor is responsible for the execution of state policies on regional level through:
1. organization of strategies and tourism development programs together with local tourism unions; coordination of their execution and drafting strategies and a plan for regional development;

2. coordination of the national tourism development strategy with mayors and municipal representatives.

(2) The regional council for development will aid the regional governor in the implementation of functions, as defined by this law.

Part II
National Tourism Council. Expert tour operator and tourism agency registration commission. Expert tourism sites categorization commission

Art. 7. (1) The National Tourism Council is a state consultative and coordination body under the management of the SAT chairperson.

(2) The SAT chairperson is also chairperson of the National Tourism Council or the chairperson is selected by the SAT head.

(3) SAT’s chairperson selects the National Tourism Council members and coordinates the decision with the heads of the respective state bodies.

(4) National Tourism Council members will be representatives of:
1. The state, as determined by point (3);

2. tourism unions, as determined by the guidelines mentioned in point (6);

3. unions of air, ground and water transportation companies, as determined by the guidelines in point (6);

4. nationally represented consumer unions in Bulgaria, as determined by the guidelines in point (6);

5. the national union of municipalities in Bulgaria.

(5) National Tourism Council:
1. confirms the annual program for spending state financial resources allocated for the development of tourism, including the annual program for marketing of the national tourism product;

2. modified and enforced on 25.11.2005;

3. coordinates and implements the national marketing campaign in the sphere of tourism;

4. modified and enforced on 14.11.2004;

5. discusses already drafted concepts and programs targeting the development of the national tourism product;

6. gives opinions on projects and normative acts and suggest modifications and amendments or rejects the drafts;

7. discusses issues connected to the setting up and maintenance of tourism-related infrastructure and the provision of foreign investment in the sphere of tourism;

8. discusses the readiness of Bulgarian air carriers to execute charter flight programs;

9. discusses and provides analysis concerning the preparation of tourism seasons, as well as the results;

10. discusses the results of activities of organs and institutions responsible for control of tourism products; suggests changes that would improve the work of these controlling bodies;

11. discusses issues and recommends successful practices in the sphere of consumer protection concerning tourism services in Bulgaria.

(6) The chairperson of SAT determines who the members of the national tourism council are and makes sure the council gets organizational and technical services, as well as guidelines.

Art. 8. Modified and enforced on November 25 2005.

Art. 9. Modified and enforced on November 11 2005.

Art. 9a. (1) SAT’s chairperson will be aided by an expert commission that will register touroperators and tourism agencies, as well as an expert commission that will categorize tourism sites.

(2) SAT’s chairperson will also be chairperson of the two commissions or will appoint such a person.

(3) The commission registering touroperators and tourism agencies will have equal number of members from SAT and from nationally represented tourism unions and organizations.

(4) The commission categorizing tourism sites will have equal number of members from SAT and members of nationally represented hotel and restaurant unions.

(5) When categorizing landmarks, the commission will have members from SAT, Regional Development Ministry, Agriculture and Forestry Ministry, Environment and Water Affairs Ministry, the State Agency for Youth and Sport, as well as representatives of national tourism unions, NGOs and individuals involved in the sphere of tourism.

(6) SAT’s chairperson approves the members of each commission, after receiving suggestions from the respective institution or union.

(7) Guidelines will be used to determine work organization in the commission. SAT’s chairperson is responsible for coming up with these guidelines.

Part III
Organs of regional self-governance and municipal administration

Art. 10. (1) Municipal councils accept programs for tourism development on regional level, in accordance with the national tourism strategy and local tourism resources and needs.

(2) The tourism development program envision activities targeting:
1. the construction and maintenance of infrastructure serving the tourism sector inside the municipality, including roads, railway lines, bus stations, as well as monuments of culture and the historic heritage;

2. the maintenance and preservation of green areas;

3. the construction of tourism information centers and a tourist information network;

4. the marketing of tourism landmarks inside the municipality both on national and international level.

(3) The mayor of each municipality:
1. removed since November 14 2004

2. creates and manages a consultative council functioning in the sphere of tourism;

3. creates a municipal expert commission that will categorize tourism sites. Half of its members will come from tourism unions functioning inside the municipality, if such exist;

4. determines the category of sites, following the recommendations of the municipal expert commission;

5. creates and maintains database of the registered tourism sites on the territory of the municipality;

6. legalizes registers of tourists who were accommodated in the municipality. All individuals involved in hotel and accommodation services on the territory of the municipality need to submit such documents;

7. cooperates in the creation of ads about the municipality’s tourism products;

8. organizes tourism information services, including the creation of information centers and bureaus;

9. cooperates in the maintenance and preservation of culture and nature landmarks;

10. controls the execution of all regulations envisioned in this law;

11. works with state institutions on the implementation of tourism policies and on control over the quality of the tourism product in the municipality;

Art. 10a. (1) A consultative council is created in each municipality that offers tourism products.

(2) The mayor is chairperson of the consultative council or should appoint another person to that position.

(3) The council has equal number of members from local administrative units and from local tourism unions, NGOs and businesses involved in tourism.

(4) The mayor determines the number of members of the consultative council, following point (3).

(5) The consultative council in the sphere of tourism:
1. drafts and suggests to the municipal council a program based on art. 10, 1;

2. makes suggestions and gives opinion on issues of importance for the development of tourism in the municipality, including the size of tourism taxes.

(6) The consultative council in the sphere of tourism decides using majority vote of more than half of its members.

(7) Work organization, number of members and make up of the consultative council are regulated via guidelines that get the approval of the municipal council.

Part IV
Tourism unions

Art. 11. (1) Tourism unions can be created in Bulgaria, as long as they are registered as non-profit entities.

(2) Unions described in (1) can be created on territorial or professional basis and can be:
1. national, regional or local;

2. sectoral or product-related;

Art. 12. (1) Through their statute, tourism unions:
1. present and protect the interest of their members before respective regional and national institutions;

2. participate in the development of strategies and plans for tourism development on national, regional and municipal level and cooperate for their execution;

3. aid the marketing of tourism products;

4. aid the setting up and functioning of tourism information centers and bureaus;

5. participate with members in expert commission dealing with the registration of touroperators and tourism agencies;

6. participated with members in the expert commission dealing with the categorization of tourism sites;

7. work for higher professional qualification of tourism staff;

8. participate in control over the execution of normative acts in the sphere of tourism;

9. define professional ethics and prevent disloyal competition between its members, contact authorities whenever violations occur.

(2) A tourism union that has been registered as a non profit organization uses its assets for the development of tourism.

(3) Tourism unions aid state and local authorities for the implementation of policies in the sphere of tourism and for control over the quality of the tourism product.

Art. 13. State organs and regional authorities should aid tourism unions in the achievement of their goals.

Art. 14. Tourism unions present to SAT registration documents that prove they are such in accordance to the requirements for listing in the national tourism register.

Chapter 3

Art. 15. (1) The state provides financial assistance for the development of tourism in the following sectors:
1. national marketing strategy in the sphere of tourism;

2. control over the quality of the tourism product;

3. unified tourism information system;

4. instruction and further qualification of staff in the sphere of tourism;

5. analyses and predictions of tourism sector developments;

6. sociological research in the sphere of tourism on national level.

(2) Funding mentioned in (1) is to be provided annually from the budget of SAT in the form of:
1. subsidy from the central budget;

2. income from
a) tourism registration and site categorization taxes;

b) fines enforced by the chairperson of the Commission for Consumer Protection;

c) interest rates;

d) other funding mentioned in normative acts.

(3) Funding for tourism development can be provided through donations and aid, as well as through international programs and agreements.

(4) Funding in (2) and (3) are to be distributed according to an annual program that the national tourism council accepts.

(5) The annual program should be accepted by the end of May of the previous year.

Art. 16. (1) Enforced on January 1 2003

(2) Funding for tourism development on municipal level is provided through decision of the municipal council from:
1. tourism taxes collected on the territory of the municipality, accommodation payments in hotels and other shelters and accommodation places;

2. fines that the mayor has enforced;

3. taxes for categorization of tourism objects mentioned in (55) of art. 4

4. funding provided for the execution of programs and projects;

5. donations and funds from international programs and agreements, when these are not to enter the state budget;

6. interest rates;

7. other sources.

(3) Funding in (2) can be used only for activities mentioned in (10) of art. 2.