Lifeguard Shortage Deepens in Bulgaria Despite High Pay and New Safety Measures

Business » TOURISM | June 23, 2024, Sunday // 12:00
Bulgaria: Lifeguard Shortage Deepens in Bulgaria Despite High Pay and New Safety Measures

Despite relatively high pay, Bulgaria faces a deepening shortage of lifeguards for the season. Nikolay Dimitrov, the beach concessionaire in Kraimorie, explained to the national radio that additional state requirements imposed by a new ordinance two months ago have contributed to the problem.

Following discussions between concessionaires and the Ministry of Tourism, it was decided that changes in the ordinance would be delayed until the next summer season. Dimitrov noted that new requirements related to medical stations and additional personnel have been postponed, as he believes the conditions are unenforceable.

Dimitrov pointed out that nowhere in the world are there medical stations as extensive as those in Bulgaria. For large beaches, there are already several ambulances with additional teams, yet the new regulations would require even more medical staff. He emphasized that Bulgarian lifeguards are highly trained and equipped, with more lifeguards per beach length compared to other countries. For instance, his 700-meter beach requires 11 lifeguards, while a 1-kilometer beach in Spain needs only six.

He called for changes similar to the period before 1989, where trained lifeguards could work in their profession and serve as lifeguards simultaneously. For example, an aluminum workshop employee who is a trained lifeguard should be able to work as a lifeguard in the summer without losing their primary job.

The regulation concerning lifeguards' working hours was also postponed. Dimitrov argued that concessionaires should have the flexibility to set their own working hours, as many beachgoers arrive after 5 p.m. Currently, lifeguard hours remain from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

He highlighted that more drownings occur after 6 p.m. and early in the morning when lifeguards are not present.

The primary factors contributing to the shortage of lifeguards are the seasonal nature of the job and increased requirements, which limit working conditions despite relatively high wages. Dimitrov mentioned offering BGN 1,900 (EUR 970) with insurance and days off but noted that salaries are still not as attractive as those in neighboring countries. In Greece, for instance, 80% of beaches lack lifeguards, while in Bulgaria, only 20-30% are unguarded, leading to lower pay.

Dimitrov assured that prices for umbrellas and deckchairs would not increase significantly. On some beaches, prices have reached their maximum allowed limit, such as 10 BGN (5 EUR) in Sunny Beach, which has been stable for years. Dimitrov has slightly raised prices by one lev to cover salaries, cleaning, and equipment.

He urged beachgoers to respect the signs and follow lifeguards' recommendations to ensure safety.

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Tags: Bulgaria, lifeguards, sea, season

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