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Hospitality industry says ban on indoor smoking in pushing many businesses towards bankruptcy.
Representatives of the restaurant and hotel sector have written an open letter to the Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, urging him to revoke the full smoking ban in indoor spaces.
The sector estimates a slump of 20-40 per cent in turnover since the ban was introduced on June 1 2012 and fears a mass exodus of customers and upcoming bankruptcies in the winter season.
According to a publication in the Trud daily, businesses want Borisov to initiate debates and changes in the Health Act banning smoking in public spaces.
They propose separate facilities as well as space inside restaurants and bars for smokers and non-smokers with strict adherence to the requirements for air-conditioning, ventilation, and not allowing minors inside smoking areas.
The proposal also includes incentives for those who implement voluntarily the full ban, such as tax deductions.
Hotel and restaurant owners say that if the ban is to stay, the budget stands to lose BGN 228 million a year in taxes, and warn that pending bankruptcies will increase unemployment, particularly among young people.
The letter is signed by businesses in 26 cities, by the Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association, the informal Association “Free Choice” and the Facebook group “Association of Locales in Bulgaria.”
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