MOSCOW, August 24 (Itar-Tass) —— Twenty-two hotels are blackmailing Russian clients of Bulgarian VIP Tours, the Russian Union of Travel Industry reported on Friday.
“Russian and Bulgarian officials are giving support to the tourists, who have found themselves in trouble after the tour operator’s bankruptcy,” it said. “Only four hotels were blackmailing our tourists yesterday. The number grew to 22 by the evening of August 23.”
Hotels have no right to demand payment from tourists because they have no direct contracts them, the Union said. “Somehow the hoteliers think that their business risks must be borne by Russian tour operators. Yet it is a Bulgarian tour operator that has gone bankrupt. Why would Russian tour operators lose money and Bulgarian hotels would not?” it wondered.
The problem of the Bulgarian VIP Tours tour operator’s bankruptcy has been resolved: four other companies undertake its commitments, Bulgarian Economy, Energy and Tourism Minister Delyan Dobrev told the Nova Televizia channel.
He said the bankruptcy would have no effect on tourists.
The ministry said earlier that Russian clients of Bulgarian VIP Tours would return home as planned upon the end of their vacations irrespective of financial problems of the host operator.
The Bulgarian Interior Ministry notified Bulgarian hotels in writing by demand of the Russian Embassy in Sofia that attempts to blackmail Russian tourists of Bulgarian VIP Tours were illegal.
Russian Vice-Consul in Bulgaria Maxim Alyoshin said that all the clients of the bankrupt tour operator had been accommodated. The Russian Foreign Ministry reported on Thursday evening that the situation was being normalizing and the Russian Embassy and the Consulate General in Varna were closely watching the developments and were prepared to assist Russian tourists if necessary.
“Meanwhile, Russian tour operators kept telling different stories of their clients accommodated at Bulgarian hotels. Some hotels demanded payment from the tourists and refused to give them money and ids from rented safe boxes before their departure,” the Union said.
The list of such Bulgarian hotels was posted on the website of the Union.