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  • Writer's pictureLeon de Leeuw

My reflection on the Bulgarian tourism industry



Once at a restaurant in Greece I left my empty sports bottle at the restaurant table to go wash my hands. When I came back, it was filled with ice cold water. Then after each meal, there is a little dessert or coffee. And service with a smile, a thank you and a goodbye. All these things are small gestures and cost pennies.


For those unable to read the screenshots in Bulgarian, this is from an online newspaper. There's discussion about the glass of water offered with coffee. Pretty much a gold standard in Greece and many other countries. Or even without the coffee, in Greece you can be sure a cold liter of water will be on your table right when you're seated. In either case. This is not really offered in Bulgaria. There's no water unless ordered and paid for. And the Bulgarian representative of the restaurant branch wants to keep it that way. Because everything costs money. And money is everything. I indulge further below the screenshot.



My assessment after 10 years of travel in Bulgaria is that in the commercial hospitality sector the Bulgarians are tripping over their Stotinkis to reach their Levas. Most waiting staff lack the most basic skills or are just plain rude. When visiting restaurants here, you feel as if you're there to give your money.


In Greece, Turkey, Italy or even Austria, you feel like you're there to experience hospitality. It's in their blood. I've been a waiter for years before coming here and always did the small gestures. It is in your nature or it is not. It got me huge tips in the end.



And it's the reason I visited the Bulgarian seaside just once and went abroad for all other summer trips. Bulgarians will rather bankrupt their restaurant than realise this. It's what happens when 'businessmen' run hospitality rather than those who actually understand what it's about. No Bulgarian seaside for me. Yes, I really do boycot it because the glass of water represents the greater lack of hospitality. You either feel welcome or you don't.


The guest will maybe come back twice on his holiday, leave a good review or leave a huge tip, just because you gave them a silly glass of water without asking. And the fact that the national representative of the restaurant branch makes such dumbfounded statement is because once more it is the wrong person in the wrong position. A European fund slurper, who knew a friend of a friend and now gets to keep Bulgaria on its last position in Europe. Only visited by vodka drinkers by the pool, and those who visit Sofia once and never return.


It is a slap in the face of all the spa, wine and sustainable tourism the country has to offer. The last in Europe, but we get to have our glass of water.

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