Bulgarian tourism officials said on August 23 that the brewing crisis involving about 1000 foreign tourists who had bought holiday packages in Bulgaria from tour operator Bulgarian VIP Tours, which declared bankruptcy earlier this week, had been quickly solved.
“There is no drama. Yesterday, there were several hours of tension, but now everything has been settled and the tourists can enjoy their holiday,” Bulgaria’s Deputy Economy Minister Ivo Marinov, who oversees the tourism sector, said.
Bulgarian VIP Tours filed for insolvency, leaving about 1000 people – half of them from Russia, one of Bulgaria’s key tourist markets – potentially stranded. Reports in Russian media, citing Russian tourism officials, said that four hotels in Bulgarian resorts had asked Bulgarian VIP Tours customers to pay for their rooms a second time (having already bought holiday packages from the bankrupt tour operator once) or vacate the premises.
Marinov said that other Bulgarian tour operators took on Bulgarian VIP Tours’ customers. On the issue of foreign holidaymakers being forced to pay for their stay twice, Marinov said that the tourists can get their money back from insurance companies.
In addition to Russian nationals, Bulgarian VIP Tours had customers from Romania, Iran and Kazakhstan, but had no Bulgarian nationals abroad, who would have been affected by the company’s bankruptcy.
Bulgarian VIP Tours has never recovered from the bankruptcy of Russian operator Capital Tour, which owed the Bulgarian firm two million euro when it filed for insolvency in 2010. According to Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Bulgarian VIP Tours never worked with the largest Russian tour operators.
The company’s bankruptcy affected fewer foreign holidaymakers than the sinking of Alma Tour one of Bulgaria’s largest tour operators, in September last year, when hundreds of tourists, many of them from Russia, but from other European countries too, were left stranded in Bulgaria when the country’s flag carrier refused to accept their tickets because of Alma Tour’s large debts.