Отклонения, лирически и прозаически
Money vs. Culture

Bulgarian state authorities and petit entrepreneurs are destroying the country’s most valuable assets in a hurried attempt to make money. If you have been to Bulgarian sea or mountain resorts in the past, and are now revisiting them, you are most probably greatly disappointed by what your eyes are seeing. 10 years ago one could go to the seaside or mountains, find a quiet room in Sunny Beach, Nessebar, Kranevo and many others, and enjoy a most relaxing vacation in a clean environment, beautiful landscapes or clean sea water. It is different nowadays. Where there used to be calm alleys, trees and sand dunes, now there are hotels. In 2006 alone, in Sunny Beach, 106 new hotels were built, turning the once beautiful resort into a concrete jungle.

Go to any of the small villages and towns on the Bulgarian coastline and there is hardly anything to see, but new hotels, cafes, restaurants, clubs and shops. I don’t know about you, but if I went to the seaside or to the mountains, I wouldn’t go there to indulge in ugly scenery with large shop windows and exuberant prices. Neither would the average European who has more than enough of these back at home. When tourist agencies advertise holidays in Bulgaria, they show tourists brochures with promises of spectacular natural views and authentic architecture. Statistics show that very few of those who visit Bulgaria ever return for a second visit as they are shocked by what they actually find.

The construction business in Bulgarian resorts is still in a state of boom, covering the few remaining natural reserves in concrete. In 2006 alone, several coastal state-owned areas lost their protected area status and were given to building entrepreneurs to “develop”. Despite dozens of protests by students and other young people who have not lost their reasoning abilities, the government refused to include Kamchia and Irakli in the Natura 2000 lists. The reason is a very simple one – there is hardly a Bulgarian MP or a minister who does not possess, or have shares in at least one hotel or holiday village.

Not only natural species are being threatened by the short-sightedness of Bulgarian “businessmen”. Over the past couple of years at least three very important archeological sites were buried under concrete. On May 19th a construction company in Balchik destroyed the temple of Asian goddess, Kibella, absolutely unique for Europe, it dated back to the 3rd c. BC. In Varna, one part of the famous Roman Baths are very shortly going to be removed, as the municipality has issued a building permit to a local group of businessmen. Earlier in April, in Silistra, a hotel was built on top of the remains of a prehistoric necropolis that was discovered near a medieval church in the process of construction.

I could go on listing such sad examples of lack of thought for the future. Some people cannot seem to imagine that in order to attract tourists, a place must have something to show them, other than 4 or 5 star hotels and kebab stands next-door where waiters and bartenders cheat as much as they can the moment they see that the foreign tourist is not paying attention to what they are being charged.

July 2007