Minister Loukarsky insisted on a high level of European consumer protection of tourism services

“Bulgaria supports the need to revise the existing European legal framework for the consumer protection of tourism services, provided this does not lead to a lower level of protection.” This was stated by Minister of Economy Bojidar Loukarsky at the regular meeting of the Competitiveness Council held in Brussel to discuss the Presidency’s initiative to update the legal regulation regarding the package travel and the combinations of travel services arranged by an intermediary.

“The level of protection of Bulgarian consumers of tourist services is currently higher than the proposed, and, therefore, we cannot support the proposal”, Minister Loukarsky stated, “Bulgarian legislation envisages the possibility for unilateral termination of the contract on behalf of a consumer, when a significant change in any of the clauses is observed. As a significant change in the contract price, the Bulgarian law provides a price increase of 5%. According to the proposal for amendment, the consumer acquires that right when an increase of at least 8% has been occurred. This would imply more unfavorable conditions for Bulgarian consumers than the existing ones “, said Minister Loukarsky.

He also commented another element of this proposal for a change to the regulation, which will allow the tourism providers with a greater freedom to change the package, without the assumption of an adequate protection for consumers. According to the Bulgarian legislation, the travel price cannot be increased up to 20 days prior to the start date. The Representation has proposed to shorten this period. “This again reduces the protection of Bulgarian consumers, especially in a dynamically growing share of sales of travel services on the Internet,” added Minister Loukarsky. He stressed that Bulgaria has made serious efforts and a number of compromises to achieve a common approach on the draft for a new directive by supporting targets, but unfortunately they are not fully achieved with the proposal of Representation.

A total of 14 countries had substantive comments on the proposal for a directive, as Bulgaria along with 8 other countries have asked for specification the provisions prior to the negotiations with the European Parliament for its adoption. The main concerns were related to guaranteeing the consumers rights and the impact on business, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.