Beaches littered with cheap hotels
Bulgaria should take advantage of the bankruptcy of British tour operator Thomas Cook to “change the racketeering model of tourism,” said 24 Chasa. The firm sent up to 450,000 tourists a year—about 10 percent of all our foreign visitors—to Bulgarian Black Sea resorts, and hotels in the region will likely lose tens of millions of dollars from its collapse. Still, we should cheer, not mourn, Thomas Cook’s demise. Tour operators have ruined the Black Sea coast with overdevelopment. “Driven by their greed for profit, tourism investors built more and more hotels.” Hideous high-rises now sprawl across beach towns that lack the infrastructure to support them. Business is booming, but the locals don’t benefit from it. The bulk of the profits “ends up in the pockets of the tour operators, which act as intermediaries.” We should have known this would happen, because the very same package-tour model destroyed Spain’s once beautiful Costa del Sol. That southern region became so densely developed that tourists eventually fled, leaving empty hotels as unsightly hulks on the beach. There’s still time to change our ways before that happens to us. If the Thomas Cook fiasco prompts the government to “intervene and limit the monopolization of package tourist services,” Bulgaria’s beaches—and our tourist economy—can yet be saved.