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Bulgaria: This and That on Property and Life

Petrolheads in Bulgaria seem to be in for some rare treats. Bulgaria recently got confirmation of a stage of the World Rally Championships in 2010. This is the only new event on the WRC calendar for next year. Bulgaria will host the event July 10th with a Saturday finish rather than the normal Sunday one. Apart from the confirmed agreement with WRC and with MotoGP, the Bulgarian Motorcycle Federation has also received a preliminary contract for hosting a Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2011 or 2012. These events have backing from the current government and Rumen Petkov, Chairman of the Organising Committee for the Bulgarian Grand Prix, said that a combined track for F1 and MotoGP would be built near Sofia.

Measures against property fraud

Notaries in Bulgaria will be able to access the national identification register and the national database containing individual's details. The plan is to enable access for notaries from the start of next year, in order that they can check personal documents and information when dealing with property transactions. It is anticipated that the measure will help combat real estate frauds.

Farming projects

The plight of Bulgarian farmers is being reconised by the banking sector who have said that they are willing to co-finance farming projects which are under EU funding. Some 633 million euros of joint finance will be available to them.

Road improvement

The government is majoring on the construction of three important highways. Trakia, Maritsa and Struma highways all have priority. The Prime Minister has declared that Bulgaria needs to construct 65kms of roads a year if they want to keep up and reach the level of roads in other EU countries. Trakia Highway will need to be completed in 2012.

Billa supermarket continues expansion

The popular supermarket chain, Billa, has plans for 17 more outlets throughout Bulgaria. The most recently opened are located in Bourgas and Sofia, with others arriving in Rousse and Stara Zagora by the end of 2009.

Bulgarian tourism and the euro

Mark Thomas of Jam Advice, gives his opinion of the potential impact of entering the eurozone on the country's tourism market.

The stated aim of the new Bulgarian government is to facilitate entry to the Eurozone during its mandate. Thus the end of ‘tourism as we know it’ in Bulgaria is likely to follow. Joining the Eurozone may ultimately be to the longer term benefit of the country but tourism may be the sacrificial lamb.

Bulgarian tourism has boomed because of 1) the relatively cheap prices 2) Fact - non Eurozone countries give better value for money than EuroZone countries.
Whilst the prices in Bulgaria are rapidly ceasing to be ‘cheap’ compared with other beach and ski rivals, the perception for European holidaymakers is that they will get more for their money (often Euro being their base currency) away from those countries who have adopted the Euro. Hence the boom in popularity of Egypt, Turkey, Bulgaria and even Thailand as sought after destinations.

If Bulgaria was pitching itself to compete with the former two destination, the country entering the Eurozone will mean game over. The fall out could be immense.

Big cigarette price hike

Cigarettes  are increasing in price from the start of 2010, with a rise of 43%, making many packets of ciggies between 4.50 and 4.90 lv from January 1. Bulgaria has the second highest number of smokers, coming only behind Greece. Banning of smoking in public places will also take place in June next year. The additional revenue generated from the increase in excise duty will be allocated to the Health Ministry, and is likely to generate some 130 million leva.

New guide

A new guide for village B and B's, cultural and ecological tourism has arrived. "Guide to Hospitality and Adventures in Bulgaria" in both Bulgarian and English contains over 100 guest houses and small hotels throughout Bulgaria. It is published by the Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism. Many of the places listed are in renovated traditional properties offering authentic Bulgarian cooking.