Russia Warns Bulgaria over Tour Operator's Bankruptcy

Tourism | August 23, 2012, Thursday // 14:32|  views

Pictured: Russian tourists enjoying a boat ride in the mouth of the Kamchiya River on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Photo by BGNES

Russia's Federal Agency for Tourism, Rostourism, has urged the Bulgarian authorities to make sure the Russian tourists affected by the bankruptcy of a local tour operator complete their vacations unproblematically.

The formal letter of Rostourism to the Bulgarian Ministry of Economy, Energy, and Tourism, and the Russian Foreign Ministry came Thursday in the wake of the news of the bankruptcy of Bulgarian VIP Tours, a Bulgarian tour operator working primarily with Russian tourists, and amidst the assurances of the Bulgarian authorities that the crisis would not affect any holidaymakers.

According to Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, a total of 500-1000 Russian tourists staying at four hotels in Bulgaria can be affected by BVT's bankruptcy, with the hotels in question already asking the Russians to pay them directly for the rooms that they had already paid the bankrupt tour operator for.

Irina Stegolkova, spokesperson of Rostourism, has stated that the Bulgarian hotels made contracts with the tour operator, and need to demand their money from the firm, instead of forcing the tourists to pay a second time for the same service.

Russian tourists accommodated in Bulgaria via Bulgarian tour operator Bulgarian VIP Tours (BVT) will complete their holidays free of trouble, assured Bulgaria's Deputy Economy Minister in charge of tourism Ivo Marinov earlier on Thursday.

"On Tuesday afternoon, the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism received information about the financial condition of Bulgarian VIP Tours. Steps were taken to make sure that all tourists who are already in Bulgaria, or are yet to arrive can spend their holidays normally," Marinov said Thursday morning in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).

He explained that Russian tour operators traditionally worked with several Bulgarian companies, meaning that after BVT's announcement that it was stopping business operations, the tourists would be serviced by other Bulgarian tourist firms.

Marinov informed that the bankrupt company had been servicing around 1000 tourists, including Russians and citizens of Iran, Kazakhstan and Romania.

The Deputy Minister vowed that Russian tourists currently on holiday in Bulgaria would not experience any difficulties, while tourists from other countries were protected by an EU Directive saying that the tour operator is liable in cases of bankruptcies when the tourists cannot receive the service they paid for.

Bulgarian tourist company Bulgarian VIP Tours (BVT) informed its Russian partners that it was stopping operations on Wednesday afternoon.

"The management of Bulgarian VIP Tours (BVT) is very sorry to announce that we are forced to stop business operations. This is a very tough decision both for us and for you. The bankruptcy of one of our main partners, the postponement of new investments, and the atrocious conditions imposed by creditors brought us to this situation in which we are unable to continue our activities," BVT's  letter said.

Irina Turina, press-secretary of Russian Tourist Industry Union, argued Wednesday that the bankruptcy would affect some 400-500 tourists who are now staying in different Bulgarian resorts, causing damages of up to EUR 300 000.

She explained that BVT had not managed to recover from the bankruptcy of Capital Tour, a major Russian tour operator owing EUR 2M to the Bulgarian company.

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Tags: BVT, Ivo Marinov, Deputy Minister, Energy and Tourism, Ministry of Economy, bankruptcy, tour operator, Russian tourists, Bulgarian VIP Tours, Economy Ministry, Rostourism, Russia, Russians, tour operators


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