Mariyana Nikolova had her first 100 days as Minister of Tourism and has proven to be brave, constant, predise. She has the stamina to go on.
Mariyana Nikolova has made a flying entry in the field of tourism, after more than two decades on the front lines of the state administration. Once a media called her a multi-tasking machine as on her fragile shoulders, she already carried such “wales” as economy, demographic policies, even the overall cyber security of the country. She has always been keen on mutual understanding and working dialog with everyone within the tourism industry, always seeking the best working economic discissions but most of all – see them favorable and effective for all people. These are much-needed virtues, especially in the current unprecedented situation, related to a world of pandemic chaos. It has been her aim to provide confidence in people that they can fully trust the state support and all necessary measures implied.
She herself moves past the qualifications cold-heartedly and, like an express train and she would stop just where she would be needed for immediate acion. Her overactive and orderly zodiac sign “Virgo” gives her great initial speed, and her experience in the hunting party – an accurate target. And if it were not for the drama with the COVID crisis, which many met with with no aid on their hands, we could only speculate how fast and how far ahead the tourism sector would have gone, considering the impact of the industry on the gross domestic product in Bulgaria.
The tourism sector was badly hit but Mariana Nikolova does not accept speaking of its great success in past tense as she strongly believes in its ability to revive. After her first 100 days as Minister of Tourism, Mariyana Nikolova has built mutual trust with the industry representatives as she has had dozens of meetings with everyone who demanded her expert opinion and her support; she met with business, diplomats, colleagues from all over the country. “I am the Minister of the tourism industry,” keeps saying the minister of the most disadvantaged sector, and this is an opinion with harsh daily proven evidence. With no acception every day her mail is filled with pleads and requests; and phone, accessible by everyone starts is “heated” by everyone who demands immediate actions.
In a very short time, the Deputy Prime-Minister proved that she can turn the engine rolling and give confidence to colleagues in the tourism sector, to consumers of tourism services, partners from other economic fields, administrations and to the NGO-s.
The Minister of Tourism has never been at loss for words as she always has the right answer with the precise arguments. As a professional lawyer, she knows where the weak point is and how to turn it from a minus to a plus, and out of a crisis to create a new opportunity for flexible and useful action. However, she does not use her role of a Deputy Prime-Minister’s as a rescue magic stick, but makes full use of the possibilities of unused reserves, helping to unlock those latches that have been unnecessarily jammed by other people.
Just in a matter of several weeks, due to her everlasting workaholic nature and persistence of character, the VAT for restaurants was reduced to 9 percent and the state aid for business during the Covid pandemic, which was 60:40, became 80:20 in the field of tourism and as such will be extended until the spring of 2021. Due to her persistence to a great extent came the approval of state aid for licensed air carriers operating tourist charters to Bulgaria to receive 35 euros for each seat for this year, as well as for the and next year.
Together with the team of the Ministry of Tourism, she opened a new measure in the Operational Program “Innovation and Competitiveness” and found BGN 10 million as a breath of fresh air for tour operators and travel agents, pressed by the global COVID pandemic. Then she squeezed the application deadlines as much as possible and again, according to the regulatory framework, abolished the participation of intermediaries and consultants. The search for additional funds from the budget and Euro-mechanisms continued with her direct monitoring.
Mariyana Nikolova is one of the most active advocates of government measures for implementing strict sanitary and hygienic control against the onset of COVID-19. Under her active leadership, tough actions have been taken for all accommodation and entertainment establishments in order to protect their staff, as well as guests.
Nikolova was on the front line and made unannounced inspections of all places in the country, which she visited on whatever occasion to make sure how prevention works and so far she has found no violations. The big goal, set by the minister, is to regain the trust of tourists.
Her dialogue with the financial institutions is neverending as these are the most complicated negotiations but her aim remains to significantly help the business to reschedule, renegotiate and guarantee the loans in which businesses have sunk due to blocked tourism industry.
Once again, Mariana Nikolova gave a hand to the professions in the sector, which the crisis literally crippled. BGN 3 million were directed to tour guides and mountain guides to cover their most urgent needs. The guides themselves spoke in 20 videos about little-known tourist sites in our country and thus they did not only advertised exciting areas of the country but introduced themselves. For many foreigners the tour guides are the faces and the voices of Bulgaria.
Mariana Nikolova is a 100 percent warrior woman – one that defends tirelessly truth and justice. When someone lies about tourism or tries to blackmail her, it’s her turn. She may slightly raise her voice in the name of truth, but she will prove the truth to her opponent.
“By standing unite and together, we can find solutions. We do not stand against each other, we are not on both sides of the barricade. We must work together for the image of Bulgaria!”, says the head of tourism. In her opinion each attempt to create anxiety within the industry is just a waste of time. Everyone who has followed her work closely is well aware that she will act on a beat and she would never postpone a working task for a convenient moment. She keeps organizing working meetings and seeks solutions wherever possible.
This seems to be the key to the fact that the sector has recognized its minister and, although populous, for the first time in years now it seems united. One might say that a housewife with a strong hand has run wild and fixed the house of tourism. No. The slender and tight figure of Minister Mariana Nikolova does not imply any masculinity (macho associations). She is communicative and responsive and dialogue is her key to solving problems.
And they are not small in number and there are no signs of containing the global crisis. However, the Minister of the tourism sector does not show any signs of waving the white flag. “Bulgaria has a lot to offer to its own people and to foreign tourists during the four seasons – nature, history, culture, competitive balneology, wonderful cuisine with great wines, golf, hunting tours, congress events, and so much more. It is a sin to keep the eyes of the world shut to such diversity. We are responsible with modern anti-crisis advertising and a strong presence on social media to say loudly and in one voice: Bulgaria offers you a safe and interesting stay. Don’t delay to experience it! ”, the energetic Virgo at the head of tourism is categorical.
To Mariyana Nikolova every effort to prove her stand will go on tirelessly.