DEVISE project partners in Bulgaria, Business Agency Association, have recently received exciting news about a new funding scheme for supporting the digitalization process of SMEs and micro enterprises of the tourism and hospitality sector!

According to our DEVISE partner in Bulgaria, Business Agency Association Chairwoman Silvia Stumpf, in the last months, after the COVID-19 outbreak, many financing schemes under the Bulgarian operational programmes have been cancelled to allow the managing authorities to reallocate funds for new forms of response to the crisis. "This affected heavily the opportunities open to companies in Bulgaria to receive support for their digitalization"

Business Agency Association has been meanwhile reviewing good practices from project partner countries that could best answer the regional needs. After having attended "a very constructive and fruitful study visit" in the city of San Sebastian in February 2020 (hosted by Fomento San Sebastian partner), in which Bulgarian staff and stakeholders participated, BAA team elaborated a detailed proposal for a new funding scheme to support digitalization, especially of small and micro enterprises from tourism and hospitality business, based on the Spanish experience. 

The proposal also included elements from other good practices identified within the DEVISE project. "An extensive discussion has been held with more than 100 companies from the tourism business in Varna area", explains Silvia Stumpf. Bulgarian partners have conducted a series of discussions with hundreds of professionals with the "invaluable active assistance" of professional tourism associations from Varna and part of Burgas to help improving the digital readiness of companies to deal with the results of the crisis. Our partner BAA is looking for opportunities for such procedures to be developed in the municipalities of Varna, Burgas, Dobrich and Nessebar. 

Furthermore, after a series of webinars and meetings with more than 20 chambers, associations, universities and clusters representing tourism SME’s, a final proposal for a new funding scheme under Bulgarian operational programme for innovation and competitiveness was elaborated and fully supported by the businesses. The proposal received full support also from the Ministry of Tourism and, now, further steps have been required from the operational programme managing authority. "The proposal was accepted as adequate and applicable from the managing authority and the new funding procedure is about to be reviewed for possible deployment under the very next financing circle. This result is a serious and inspiring proof that interregional learning within Interreg Europe programme leads to measurable and substantial change in policies adding much needed value to the regions’ development and prosperity", adds the Chairwoman.