Archive for May, 2010


Bulgaria has vowed to bring back the incentives for investors in golf courses, malls, hotels and spa complexes as the country is trying to stay competitive and keep low the unemployment rate.
The incentives will be provided under amendments to the Law for encouraging investments, which will offer a wide range of bonuses for investors in projects that are worth over BGN 100,000 and create at least 200 jobs.
The package includes the issuing of an investor’s certificate, the sale of a land slot at a minimum price, fast services, covering expenses for the installation of electricity and water sewage channels.
Bulgaria is expected to be set for a boom in mall and golf development.
The economic crisis in the past year proved fertile for the malls and discount retailers stepping on Bulgarian soil in recent months and the country is expected to see their boom in 2010.
Retailers, including Carrefour, Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG of Germany and Slovenia’s Mercator Poslovni Sistem d.d., want to shore up flagging sales at home by expanding in Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest member.
The country, which fell behind other former-communist nations in raising living standards, offers better growth prospects than neighbors, whose more- developed markets are becoming saturated, while investors enjoy lower wages and costs.
Golf was considered a sport of the capitalist elite and banned in Eastern Europe under the rule of communist regimes — but in the 20 years since the Berlin Wall has fallen there has been a renaissance of the game in the region.
With rising disposable income and an increasing interest in leisure pursuits, a growing number of courses, more television coverage and availability of EU funds, the future of the industry in Eastern Europe is bright.
Bulgaria is one country where the sport is on the up as it tries to fulfil the increasing domestic demand and attract more tourists to the region..
Bulgaria’s government expects the economy to grow about 1% in 2010 after shrinking 5.1%. That compares with an estimated 0.2% contraction in Hungary, and growth rates of 0.6% in Slovenia and 1.3% in the Czech Republic.

Czechs rebrand communist holidays

Socialist kitsch is back in fashion for these holidaymakers in the Tatra Mountains.

A Czech travel agency is offering package holidays for people nostalgic for the trade union perks of communist Czechoslovakia, when factory workers were bussed off to recuperate from the daily grind.

For a modest sum, guests can stay at a grim-looking hotel in Slovakia’s Tatra Mountains, to relive the sights, sounds, and smells of pre-1989 holidays, the BBC’s Rob Cameron reports.

It’s 8.30am and holidaymaker Viera Kubisova is eating breakfast. I think I’ve upset her.

“It’s history. That’s all it is. It’s history, and it’ll never be erased,” she says, waving a spicy sausage at me.
Dear leaders: Reminders of the communist past are all part of the “fun”

She is upset because I’ve asked if she was bothered by the bust of Stalin in the hotel lobby.

“It’s our history and it’s inside us,” she continues, still brandishing the sausage.

“People of my generation felt it for 40 years. We lived it, and we’ll never be able to detach ourselves from it.”

Viera, from the Slovak capital Bratislava, is one of 80 or so Czechs and Slovaks who have spent a week enjoying a “retro” holiday in the style of the workers’ breaks that used to be organised by the Communist Revolutionary Trade Union Movement – or ROH, to use the Czech acronym.

The holidays were a reward for a year of toil in the offices, factories, and coal mines of socialist Czechoslovakia.

Spirit of socialism
Socialist realism – charming for some – extends to the hotel furnishing

Mostly middle-aged or elderly, Viera and friends have come to the large and eerie Hotel Morava in Tatranska Lomnica, a winter resort in Slovakia’s Tatra Mountains, to rekindle fond memories of ROH holidays gone by.

The hotel rooms are gloomy and claustrophobic. There is a weird smell in the bathroom. Ugly 1950s chairs sit empty at the end of silent corridors. It is a bit like the hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining, only with Lenin and Stalin playing the ghosts.

And for some guests the authentic communist ambience is all part of the hotel’s charm.

But surly communist-style service is no longer a feature.

“The idea came about totally by chance,” explains Petr Krc, Czech travel agency owner and creator of the ROH retro holiday.

Petr Krc makes the most of relics from communist times

“The Morava’s manager was showing us round the basement, and we came across a storeroom. Inside were boxes and boxes of flags, towels, napkins, cutlery, glasses, all with the ROH logo on them,” he says.

“I said to him ‘What are you going to do with this lot?’ And he said ‘I don’t know, guess we’ll hire a skip and chuck it’. And I said ‘For God’s sake, don’t do that! You’re sitting on a goldmine!'”

At 7am, the hotel wakes with a start. Loudspeakers crackle into life, blaring out a mixture of revolutionary songs and socialist-era pop. Those guests still asleep are roused by a hotel worker with a whistle.

Bleary-eyed and yawning, the holidaymakers are dragged out onto the hotel lawn for some vigorous open-air exercise.

At this point it becomes clear that the whole thing is more of an elaborate practical joke than a real exercise in nostalgia. 

Exercise was compulsory as the state wanted healthy workers

Dressed in an assortment of pyjamas, nightcaps and red scarves, the guests try their best to keep up with the exercises before collapsing, some in fits of giggles, on the grass.

“I really wouldn’t politicise it too much, it’s just a bit of a laugh,” says Vladimir Polak, dressed in the light blue uniform of the Communist Union of Youth. Vladimir clearly bade farewell to youth several decades ago, so presumably the uniform is not his original.

“It’s about reliving your memories – in my case childhood memories of having to stand on the pavement and wave a red flag on May Day. We’re just having a bit of fun.”

The fun continues with a train ride to a neighbouring resort, where a mock May Day parade awaits. Even Lenin is on hand to greet the marchers; clearly he was the only local man with a goatee and a flat cap. I also don’t remember anything in the history books about Lenin wowing revolutionary crowds with jokes.

“Look, you have to laugh at communism,” says Petr Krc, when I ask him whether if it is really appropriate to make light of a brutal totalitarian dictatorship.

“Back then, we had to whisper, you couldn’t make jokes about the regime. Now all of us are laughing – and this time we’re laughing out loud.”

Bulgaria will Clean Web Space from Pirates

The two biggest torrent tracker Bulgarian Web sites, and, will be closed down, said the head of Bulgaria’s Computer Crimes Department, Yavor Kolev.

He explained that they distribute pirate files and deceive users to send sms messages. “We’ll clean the web space from Internet pirates and establish legal platforms for file downloads, said Kolev at TV program last week, “I have nothing against Internet users downloading movie and music files from the net as long as that does not constitute an intellectual theft.”

The European Director of the International Recording Federation, Frances Moore, said that Bulgaria ranks first in the EU by Internet piracy. Mr. Kolev declared that the government will go after the investors in Internet piracy rather than regular Internet users to overcome the problem.

According to unconfirmed data, the true owner of the Zamunda is a Syrian citizen and is under Russian control.