Sofia Echo

Tourism

No-fly zone

Author: Clive Leviev-Sawyer Date: Fri, Sep 16 2011 1 Comment, 4601 Views
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Socialist MPs seized with glee on what they saw as an opportunity to criticise the Government about the handling of the Bulgaria Air – Alma Tour dispute that left hundreds of foreign tourists stranded for days after their Black Sea holidays.

Alleging incompetence, the socialists called for the resignations of Economy Minister Traicho Traikov and his deputy Ivo Marinov, claiming that the ministry had failed to secure guarantees for the transport of tourists – an allegation that the Government rejected as ignorance of the actual workings of the law.

Russian tourists currently make up the bulk of Bulgaria’s summer tourist industry customers, but Bulgaria has had a bad press this year, starting with visiting Russian children getting food poisoning at seaside resorts, and now with the September 9 decision by the privately-owned flag carrier to cancel tickets that had been booked by Alma Tour.

That Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s Government intervened to help, from attempting to broker a solution to providing an aircraft and specially extending expired visas, did not mollify its critics, including in the Russian media.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta opined that "slowly but surely Bulgaria is burying its reputation as a tourist destination".

Next year Russian tourists would choose destinations other than Bulgaria’s Black Sea resorts, the newspaper said.

It said that in recent days all Russian media had opened and closed their bulletins with news about the Bulgaria Air – Alma Tour saga. The article said that the problem would have been solved "within hours" had the tourists been British or German, "but Russian tourists have to wait".

By September 15, all the stranded Russian tourists were home, as well as Finnish tourists who had got flights out earlier.

In Parliament, Traikov said that there was an "aggressive campaign against Bulgarian tourism" and lashed out at the socialists for seeking to make political capital from the dispute.

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  • Alma matter
    • Profile preview
      Martine Brennan Rating: 8
      neutral
      #1 13, 50, Sat, Sep 17 2011

      Bulgaria in general does not seem to
      be promoting itself as a tourist
      destination, nor with various
      unfortunate events does it seem very good at keeping goodwill. But, at the very least, some of these things are beyond the reasonable control of the Government.
      I would say that Bulgaria needs to
      offer tourists something better
      than it has of late - and it will
      be dire if the Russians lose interest. This would also affect
      the real estate market as the
      Russians [...]

      Read the full comment seem to be the only buyers
      at present.
      However, I think the Russians are
      more popular than the British,so
      I don't think it would have been a case of solving the problems any quicker had the affected tourists
      been British. The Germans might
      have more clout.

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