In August the local media reported the tragic death of an English expat, the good and bad sides of Bulgaria's tourism and the reasons behind the delays in building modern European roadways.
Tragedy Near Razlog "Tragedy struck a village near Razlog. The first Englishwoman to move to Dolno Draglishte fell into a 30-m, or 98-foot, chasm and died near the Shtrokaloto Waterfall above the neighbouring village of Dobarsko," wrote the Blagoevgrad newspaper Struma. Fifty-two-year-old Katrina Stockwell slipped into a ravine and fell to her death before her husband Trevor's eyes. Police confirmed the incident, which took place on 14 August. "Stockwell, who had lived in the village of Dolno Draglishte near Razlog for five years, went out for a walk with her husband, Trevor, to take pictures to send back to England," the newspaper reported.
A Step Back, A Step Forward “The big problem with tourism in Bulgaria is related to the rapid increase in bed availability, poor service and the lack of management in the region,” Kapital newspaper reported. ”Left to their own devices, entrepreneurs have transformed the Bulgarian Black Sea coast (and also the mountain resorts) into destinations that primarily attract the most cost-sensitive tourists. But even for them bargain prices are sometimes not attractive enough. As far as luxury tourism is concerned, it still largely requires adequate infrastructure, attractive environment, quality service and - last but not least - beach space.”
Some optimists can still be found, however. “Overconstruction, bars and nightclubs have driven away family vacationers in Golden Sands and Sunny Beach,” notes the manager of a local tourist agency that also serves as Thomas Cook's general representative in Bulgaria. “But young people have taken their place, so business hasn't declined.”
Double Standards? If you are a Bulgarian and want to buy a cheap vacation, your best bet is to act as if you were a foreigner, Standart daily reported.” Aneliya Krushkova, chairwoman of the State Agency for Tourism, booked a holiday for the Golden Sands resort from an Austrian tour operator. Thus the package costs considerably less than if booked from a Bulgarian tour agency. According to the Agency's data, many Bulgarians prefer to holiday on the beaches of neighbouring Greece. In the summer of 2008, the number of Bulgarians who will spend their vacation in Greece is expected to be higher by 117 percent than a year ago.”
Roads at a Standstill ”Our motorways have become Brussels' hostages,” warns Trud. “In Bulgaria it was almost a lost year in terms of motorway construction after the freezing of EU transportation funds blocked the government's plans to construct the Trakiya, Maritsa and Struma motorways. At the moment work is going forward only on the Lyulin motorway, for which 103 million euros under the ISPA programme and 34 million euros in state money have been earmarked,” the newspaper reported. “After the Trakia concession fell through, state funds will be used to build the Trakia motorway in three stages. At the moment, however, the transportation fund is being restructured and no construction tenders have been announced. The Maritsa and Struma motorways will be built with EU money - the former is scheduled to be finished by 2013, the latter by 2020.”
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers