ECONOMY

Bulgaria puts the brakes on Black Sea construction

SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s government on Friday approved a draft law limiting construction on its Black Sea coast, the pace of which threatens to undermine a nascent tourism industry. Construction has exploded over the past 10 years as developers move into one of Europe’s least developed warm-water destinations. «We need urgent measures against over-intensive construction,» Minister of Regional Development Asen Gagauzov told journalists after the Cabinet approved the measure. Almost 5 million tourists visited Bulgaria last year, spending a record 1.9 billion euros ($2.25 billion). But critics say the boom, fueled by weak controls and corruption, is making beaches crowded and unattractive. Holidaymakers often complain of staying at muddy construction sites bearing little resemblance to the resorts pictured in travel brochures. Under the law, which must still be approved by Parliament, projects will be supervised by regional officials and representatives from the construction ministry. Works will be banned from May until October – the peak holiday season – and building will be limited to areas more than 50 meters from the coast, with at least 70 percent set aside for greenery.