Hundreds of Russian tourists still in Bulgaria because of the Bulgaria Air - Alma Tour dispute may be able to leave today, television station bTV said on September 14 2011.
Many tourists already have left by various means, including on charters, regular Bulgaria Air flights and on a state aircraft provided by the Bulgarian Government.
The number of tourists still stranded in Bulgaria because of the standoff between the airline and the tour company over the company's debt default is disputed.
Further, there is a question mark over the return flights of about 600 other foreign tourists who were booked on flights scheduled to leave on September 16, 23 and 30, according to bTV, although the television station said that a plan was being prepared for their return.
Bulgarian-language media said that Economy Minister Traicho Traikov, who on September 13 convened an emergency meeting of the parties to the dispute, said that the companies involved could face sanctions.
On September 13, Russia's federal agency for tourism, Rosturizam, held a special meeting to come up with arrangements to return stranded Russian tourists home.
Bulgarian media said quoted Alma Tour as saying on September 13 that some Russian tourists already had left Bulgaria at their own expense, buying air tickets after insurance company Renaissance Group had said it would reimburse the cost if relevant documentation was submitted.
Quoted by Bulgarian National Radio, Rosturizam said that it was seriously concerned about the situation arising from the Alma Tour dispute, saying that it was unacceptable that Russian tourists had been brought to Bulgaria without a proper guarantee of their return home.
Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry said on September 13 that its officials had written to the Border Police asking for extensions of the visas of Russian tourists who had, through no fault of their own, overstayed their permitted time in Bulgaria. The ministry asked the Border Police not to penalise anyone found to have overstayed their visa because of the Bulgaria Air - Alma Tour situation.