ARTICLES 
The West Goes East
The Independent, 28th June 2005
This summer hundreds of thousands of British holidaymakers are moving east, shifting allegiance from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.

Most are aiming for Bulgaria, where the number of British visitors increased by two-thirds last year. The increase of visitors to Bulgaria is causing alarm in Spain and Greece, both of which suffered a slump in UK package holidaymakers last year. The strength of the euro, and perceptions of price rises in member states, persuades bargain-hunting Britons to look further east.

Bulgaria has had cut-price holidays at its Black Sea resorts since the 1980s, but standards were poor. The best accommodation was kept for Communist Party officials, and holidaymakers suffered a dismal dining experience, despite the culinary traditions of Bulgaria (yoghurt was invented here, and it has excellent food and wine).

In the past few years, Spanish hoteliers have been brought in to raise standards and by next summer, visitor numbers from Britain are expected to double, compared with 2003. Some are hunting property, in advance of Bulgaria's membership of the EU.

Main attractions of Bulgaria: Golden Sands, both the name of a leading resort and a fair description of the shoreline. Close by are the remains of the Aladzha monastery, and caves occupied 7,000 years ago. The city of Varna, from where British troops sailed to the Crimean War, is rapidly turning itself into a riviera-style resort.

Getting there: Charter flights operate from leading UK airports non-stop to Varna.

Claim to fame: The Cyrillic alphabet, now used across Russia, was devised in Bulgaria.

Potential slogan: We invented yoghurt, and we've plenty more culture besides.

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