The winter holiday season has produced a series of cautionary tales as, in a series of separate incidents, tour groups were caught in the middle of controversies about unpaid debts.
In one incident, tourists from Russia, Serbia and Bulgaria reportedly were barred from the four-star Orpheus hotel in Pamporovo because of alleged unpaid debts by the hotel to its largest creditor, EIBank.
According to a report by Darik Radio, security guards armed with batons obstructed guests from reaching their luggage and prevented them from having breakfast.
The report quoted a lawyer for the bank, Daniela Boyanova, as saying that the bank had received possession of the hotel as provided for in the debt agreement and the hotel company owner’s management had been notified of this. Accepting reservations under such circumstances showed an "unfair and irresponsible" attitude to tourists, the bank was quoted as saying.
Hotel manager Spasimir Pentchev said that the actions of the bank "lower the prestige of one of our biggest mountain resorts" and said that this was a blow to Bulgaria’s tourist industry.
In a separate incident, Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said on January 3 that the country’s embassy in Morocco had intervened after the travel documents of a group of Bulgarian tourists were withheld because of a dispute over unpaid debts between a tour company and Bulgarian travel agency Betz.
The group was delayed in Tangier because of the dispute.
"After they were alerted, Bulgarian diplomats in Rabat, in co-ordination with their colleagues in Sofia, urged the Moroccan authorities to ensure that the passports were returned immediately, which has been done, and the Bulgarian group has been able to leave the country," the Foreign Ministry said.
In a third incident, a 47-year-old Bulgarian woman was arrested in Serbia in connection with alleged document forgery, Serbian media said, quoted by Bulgarian news agency Focus.
A Serbian daily said that Bulgarian Boika Nedelcheva, owner of the Dibois Travel Agency, was arrested in Prolom Banja spa complex after allegedly presenting forged documents purporting to show that bank payment had been made for a group of 26 Bulgarian tourists spending New Year’s Eve at the resort.
"Several Bulgarian tourist agencies brought 250 guests to celebrate New Year’s Eve here. There was a condition for the service to be paid in advance. All agencies did it except for one, which brought 26 people. The owner of the travel agency said that the payment has been done and presented the documents. We found the paper suspicious and asked the police to check the document’s authenticity," Zlatko Veljovic, owner of the spa complex, said.