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8. SPA and Wellness Tourism

Given the rich natural resources of Bulgaria, one of the priority sectors for the development of the country is the spa tourism. The main legislation in this area includes the and the Regulation on the categorization of accommodation, hospitality, catering and entertainment. The categorization of spa hotels, wellness hotels and balneohotels is done by the Minister of Economy.


It is expected a new Tourism Act to be adopted in 2012. The proposed bill provides that spa centers furnished to provide medical spa, wellness spa, wellness and thalassotherapy services will be subject to certification by the Minister of energy and tourism. The right to use in their names the abbreviation "SPA" or indications "medical spa", "wellness" and "thalassotherapy" or provide services under the general term "medical spa" or "spa / wellness services" in brochures, leaflets or on the Internet pages will be solely for those operating in buildings or premises a certificate of "medical spa", "spa", "wellness center" or "thalassotherapy center." Under the bill spa hotels will be given a special category indication of which can be placed on building and advertising materials to indicate that the hotel has a permit for the use of mineral water and spa services and meets legal requirements and standards.


The legal framework of the sector also includes the National Strategy for Sustainable Development of Tourism in Bulgaria of 2009, presenting the vision and priorities for promoting sustainable development schemes and management of tourism activities for the period 2009-2013.


An essential role in the sector is played by the National Tourism Council, which is public consultative and coordination body to the Minister of Economy and Energy. It approves the annual program for state financial support to the tourism sector, coordinates the implementation of the national promotion of tourism programmes, provides opinions on draft legislation and makes proposals for their amendment.


Hotel categorization

Legal framework

  • Tourism Act
  • Regulation on the categorization of places for accommodation eating and entertainment.

Competent authority

  • The Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, acting on a proposal by the Expert Committee for categorization of tourist places, shall determine one of the following categories for accomodation places with the adjoining eating and entertainment venues: "two-star", "three-star", "four-star" and "five-star" category, and the adjoining dining and entertainment venues; accommodation places with the adjoining eating and entertainment venues (except family hotels, boarding houses, houses and separate rooms): "three-star", "four-star" and "five-star" category; separate eating and entertainment venues: "three-star", "four-star" and "five-star" category.
  • The mayor of the municipality, acting on a proposal by the municipal categorization expert committee, shall determine categories of: shelters - "one-star" category, and the adjoining eating and entertainment venues; family hotels, boarding houses, houses and separate rooms  and the adjoining eating and entertainment places: "one-star", "two-star" and "three-star" category; other accommodation places - "one-star", "two-star" category, and the adjoining eating and entertainment places; separate eating and entertainment places - "one-star" and "two-star" category.

Procedures and required documents

  • The person who is or will be engaged in hotel or restaurant management or a person authorised thereby shall file an application for categorization or for changing the category of the tourist place under the Tourism Act, to which the following documents shall be attached:

-       copies of documents certifying that the person has the right to carry out business operations, including under the legislation of an EU Member State or another country which is a party to the EEA Agreement;

-       a statement that the person is not subject to any bankruptcy or liquidation procedure;

-       report on the professional and language qualification of the staff at the establishment following the forms provided in the Regulation;

-       copies of the documents certifying the professional and language qualification of the manager of the tourist place;

-       form for determining the category of the place;

-       copies of the documents regarding the ownership title;

-       document certifying the commissioning of the establishment;

-       copy of the lease agreement or any other agreement evidencing that there are conditions for the performance of the respective tourist activity;

-       document evidencing the payment of the categorization fee.