Party’s over? Bulgarian politician declares war on rowdy tourists at Europe’s cheapest holiday resort

Matthew Day
Tourists on a night out in Bulgaria's brashest Black Sea resort, Sunny Beach - AFP

The cheap drink and non-stop party atmosphere that has lured Britain’s young to Bulgaria’s Black Sea resorts is under threat from a “war on noise” that has seen nightclubs raided and a leading international DJ festival cancelled.

Over the weekend Valeri Simeonov, the deputy prime minister, led a raiding team of police, and tax and health officials that hit two clubs on Sunny Beach, Bulgaria’s brashest Black Sea resort, arresting one DJ and seizing sound equipment amid claims the clubs had broken sound regulations.

Videos later posted on the internet showed the politician in action at one club as he and the police were subject to a barrage of boos, heckles and chants from party-goers angry that the plug had been pulled on the music.

Last year 280,000 Britons headed for Bulgaria, many attracted by the low prices   Credit: AFP/NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV

Last year around 281,000 Britons travelled to Bulgaria with many heading for the cut-price delights of the Black Sea coast. With a half-litre glass of beer costing less than £1 and an evening meal for two with wine for as little as £20, Bulgaria, and in particular Sunny Beach, has become a haven for youngsters looking to live it up on little money.

But now Mr Simeonov’s “war” has cast a shadow. On Wednesday the organisers of Sunny Beach’s Solar Summer 2017, an international electronic music festival that has attracted leading DJs such as Fatboy Slim and Pete Tong in the past, scrapped this year’s event because they fear the crusading minister might seize their equipment.

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“We never imagined a situation in which the world’s top artists may be stopped and the equipment confiscated,” Ivan Donchev, one of the organisers, said in an interview for Nova Televizia, a Bulgarian television station. “In the times of social networks, the news will spread like lightning around the world, and will have a very negative impact on the image of both Bulgaria and us as organisers.”

Mr Simeonov has remained defiant despite the controversy his actions have caused.

At a press conference on Monday he played a recording of complaints about noise he had received, and said that the clubs must respect the law.

“It is not the job of the deputy prime minister to conduct inspections, but clearly disorder has been going on for some years, and the club owners have developed a sense of impunity, so I had to make an example of them,” said Mr Simeonov.

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