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Beach Concessions Up For Dispute

Amendments to the law on beach concessions envisage Regional Development and Public Works Minister Assen Gagaouzov deciding which 100 coastal beaches would be given on concession or rented out.

Not all 100 beaches on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast were given on concession, Dnevnik daily said. Most of them (60) were located in the Bourgas region.

Parliament would vote on the amendments within a month. If amendments are late, the state could proclaim part of these beaches deserted or the concession tenders for the beaches in the resorts of St. Konstantin and Elena, Albena and Zlatni Pyasutsi (Golden Sands) may be delayed. The concessions' contracts on these beaches expire at the end of 2008.

The concession procedure usually takes nearly 300 days, but the legal amendments would allow the regional development ministry to rent out the beaches for 10 years.

Deputy Regional Development and Public Works Minister Savin Kovachev said that the investment programme, market image and guarantees given, rather that concession payments, would be decisive factors in choosing a concessionaire.

Hotel owners disagreed, however, with prolonging the concession period to up to 20 years, Dnevnik said.

Maria Indjova, deputy chair of the union of hotel owners, said that hoteliers suggested that the concession should continue to be for a 10-year period because the investment risk was too big. The owners of first-line hotels should have an advantage when bidding for a beach concession, she added.

Municipal mayors were also dissatisfied, demanding a bigger share of the concession fee. They currently receive 30 per cent.