The sprawling holiday complex built for Russian children at Kamchia on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast is set for a quiet summer because of Moscow’s ban on state-subsidised holidays for children, military veterans and pensioners in Bulgaria.
The Kamchia resort, a project on which hundreds of millions of euro has been spent, opened in 2007 and has seen successive waves of large groups of Russian children coming to the purpose-built resort, about 20km north of Varna, every summer.
But now Vladimir Putin’s Russia is seeking its revenge on EU member Bulgaria for its backing for sanctions against Moscow over the illegal annexation of Crime and Russian aggression in Ukraine.
The Kamchia case was highlighted at a news conference by Petar Kanev, an MP for the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, which opposes sanctions against Russia.
According to Kanev, more than five million on the payroll of Russia’s civil service, army and security services were effectively banned from coming to Bulgaria on holiday, while the authorities in Moscow had prohibited state-subsidised holidays for children, seniors and veterans in Bulgaria.
Kanev said that the restriction applied to all countries backing sanctions against Russia, but, he said, Bulgaria would be hardest-hit.
He said that the management of Kamchia had received a letter a few days ago that all trips to the resort in summer 2015 had been cancelled.
Local media quoted the management of the Kamchia resort as saying that children would still be coming to holiday this summer, but only in cases where their parents were paying the full cost.
The resort has a 2000-bed capacity and in 2014 opened the Yuri Gagarin private school. The programme for summer 2015, posted in Russian on the resort’s website, includes a music festival, international puppet festival, a “Slavonic Fair” to teach children Slavonic cultural traditions, a “programme for young journalists”, a survival course, Russian-language course and a course in English.
Earlier, separate media reports on March 23 said that after this month’s international tourism fair in Moscow, the Bulgarian tourist industry expected a 60 per cent decrease in Russian tourists this summer, although the Ministry of Tourism was more cautious, expecting a decline of about 30 to 40 per cent.
Even Russian owners of apartments at the Bulgarian Black Sea coast either will not come or will significantly shorten their stay. In summer 2014, Russian tourists added up to 700 000, or about a third of the number of tourists in Bulgaria, according to a report by bTV.
A major factor in the expected downturn in the number of Russian tourists is the severe weakening of the rouble against a background of the sharp decrease in world oil prices.
BTV said that the decline in the number of Russian tourists was not expected to be compensated for, because the number of tourists from the Scandinavian market also was expected to decline, Romanians “leapt over” Bulgaria to holiday in Greece while German tourist numbers were expected to remain the same.