Protest Held in Sofia over Ban on Beach Camping
Hundreds demonstrated in Bulgaria's capital Sofia on Tuesday after Parliament voted to make it illegal to put up tents on the beach.
Participants, whose action was aired by local TV stations, described the move by lawmakers as "absurd" and "a provocation".
One of them said beach campign was "far less detrimental" compared to other activities currently allowed on beaches, but admitted ways to regulate it have to be considered.
It was the "human footprint" that allegedly prompted the government to seek such a ban, which also bars drivers from parking their vehicles at a distance equal to or smaller than 100 meters from Black Sea beaches.
Fines for both activities will range from BGN 1000 (EUR 500) to BGN 10 000.
The ban does not fully prohibit camping along the Bulgarian coast, but limits possible venues to "specially designed places".
Additionally, it is allowed to spend the night on the beach under the new legal amendments, despite suggestions from some parties such a ban should be introduced as well.
Lawmakers voted in favor overwhelmingly, with 106 of them backing, 9 opposing, and 7 abstaining.
Dnevnik.bg quotes Nayden Zelenogorski as saying it was not normal for campers to "occupy for months state property such as beaches". Several MPs, however, accused the governing coalition of resorting to "populism" and "serving the interests of oligarchs".
Separately, MPs approved a ban on public concessions on Karadere, Koral and Irakli, three beaches known among holidaymakers who opt for campign. There have been protests over the past few years against attempts to build hotels and restaurants on some of the beaches. The plans resulted in a public outcry from environmental activists and other citizens alike.