National Seminar in Bulgaria

On 24 September 2015 a national seminar, entitled Corporate Social Responsibility for Small Hotels and Restaurants: Instruments for Skills’ Development and Recognition was held in Albena. The participants were hotel’ and restaurant’ managers and owners, local authorities, experts from Regional Inspectorate of education, VET providers, and social partners.

During the seminar, the project and main project products were presented: HORECA Skills Analysis, European Qualifications Frameworks for the professions “manager of a small hotel” and “manager of a small restaurant”, e-handbook for Socially Responsible Management of small hotels and restaurants and Manager’s guide for sustainable business.

According to the dissemination and exploitation plan of the project, in the Bachelor program “Hospitality management” of NBU – Albena, from 2015/2016 academic year a new course has been included – Training course for Corporate Social Responsibility in hospitality. It will introduce students to the practical nature and the benefits of the implementation of the principals of Corporate Social Responsibility in the hospitality, provide information on the various activities and initiatives that are directly related to the implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility and will display why its implementation is so important.

The presentation of Prof. Dr. Irena Bokova – a cultural anthropologist from New Bulgarian University, was met with a lot of interest. Some accents:

  • The politics in the tourism sphere can play a successful role as an instrument: for the development of territories, innovation of cities, justifying policies and financing projects and receiving public financing such as European funds;
  • Tourism is an economic and political instrument, which concerns the ways of life – cultures, and is one of the “Great stories” of the modern world about “the global community which is developed and maintained by mobility”;
  • Understanding Europe in terms of cultural traditions and modern local cultures has a political significance – mutual understanding and integrating of the Europeans in a new political set like the European union, while at the same time – bringing an economical significance;
  • At present time, speaking a certain language, practicing certain cultural traditions can “transform” into an instrument for the political sphere;
  • The cultural heritage is a treasure, a choice of past, which we need to be linked with: through our memories and through the respect we pay to it. The cultural heritage is connected to the obligation to protect something, something you oblige yourself to do, because the value of the discovered object/entity transforms us into “story tellers” oh behalf of the people who created the object (for example the heritage of the Thracians, the medieval heritage, etc.)

The consequent discussion outlined the following problems for the HORECA sector in Bulgaria:

  • The first and main problem of tourism is its perception as a seasonal branch;
  • The increasing tendencies towards the migration of staff to foreign countries because of the chance for a better career and higher wages;
  • Businesses feel a strong need not only for specialized staff, but also for lower staff – the training of average staff potential in secondary vocational schools needs to be in the center of this;
  • An emphasis should be placed on the training/qualification and development of the skills on the work place and not necessarily only in school;
  • It should be emphasized that attention must be paid to the teaching and their practical training. According to the experts, a theoretician must have gone through all the necessary steps of the practice in order to teach tourism;
  • Our country needs gradual development of the professional education in the tourism sector. Secondary education should provide executive personnel, and managers should go through the lower steps of qualification before occupying leading positions. The implementation of interactive teaching methods on the work place should be worked on, as well as the strengthening of flexible employment forms.

As a conclusion, we present some opinions of participants in the seminar:

“The products allow the enhancement of managerial competences, provide systemized and synthesized information that includes core knowledge, skills and competences, which are introduced through an interactive environment. They are very useful for the practical linking between teaching and applying the knowledge and skills into a professional environment”.

“EQFs can be used as a starting point by everyone who wishes to rate and compare their knowledge, skills and competences in the common tourism environment”.

,,As people who value their time, hotel’ and restaurant’ managers can find in these products a source of new knowledge, measure of qualification, a device for competitiveness and last but not least – a systemized, useful and available at any time information which can help them when creating and implementing a tourist product”.