Bulgarian authorities have been inspecting beaches held under concession contracts, finding rule-breaking such as shortages of lifeguards and stalls being put out in excess of those agreed on.
Information about breaches of the rules, found in the second half of June and early July, had been passed on prosecutors in accordance with the July 20 deadline to do so, Regional Development Minister Liliyana Pavlova told a news conference, adding that snap inspections would continue in August.
Pavlova said that concessiona-holders and those renting beaches were obliged to provide free access to the beach, had a duty to provide medical care, running water on every beach and access to toilets, and not to collect entrance fees to the beach. Other rules included that all prices should be in writing.
At 49 of the beaches held on concession, inspectors had found “movable objects” and additional retail space in violation of the approved plans.
Seventeen beaches had an insufficient number of lifeguards and rescue posts, and at two beaches medical equipment was incomplete, she said.
Pavlova said that the lack of lifeguards was a worsening problem. She said that from talks with the Bulgarian Red Cross, it had emerged that there were not enough people willing to do the job, and she had asked the Employment Agency to consider setting up programmes targeted at the employment offices.
The inspections found large variations in prices for renting umbrellas and deck chairs, ranging from 40 leva at Sveti Iliya, 30 leva at the north beach of Saints Konstantin and Elena to 10 leva at the Kiten camping area.
Average prices for umbrellas and sun loungers were between three and eight leva. She appealed to tourists to report violations of the requirements to which concession-holders and those renting beaches were subject. “We are available to investigate,” Pavlova said.
She said that where breaches of the rules had been found, notices had been served on the offenders, with deadlines to correct the situation. If the breaches were not remedied, sanctions would follow, and the third step was to terminate contracts.
Pavlova said that in 2012, fines levied amounted to 1.2 million leva. During the summer seasons of 2013 and 2014, the state had failed to act, she said.
In 2014, fines added up to only 22 000 leva, while Sunny Beach resort was “impeccable” which Pavlova described as a paradox. She said that in Sunny Beach and Nessebur, the concession-holders showed the most “arrogant” behaviour, paying fines but failing to remedy breaches of the rules.