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Implications of population and tourism development growth for Bulgarian coastal zone


Coastal zones are comprised of a great variety of natural ecosystems and resources and for this reason they are highly attractive for many human activities including settlement and recreational tourism. This great societal interest has resulted in rapid development and even urbanization of the coasts. Coastal tourism is still a rapidly growing part of the economy in many nations including countries along the Black Sea like Bulgaria. Increasingly, coastal areas and ecosystems are pressured by population, tourism, pollution, habitat degradation and loss, overfishing and increased hazards. This study assesses the population changes during 1934–2011 and tourist growth over 1999–2011 in the coastal zone of Bulgaria as an example of human pressure on today’s shorelines. The tourist boom over the last decade has resulted in substantial coastal population growth in Bulgaria. Results based on 2011 Census data show that population density in the zone within 10 km of the coast is 223 people per square km, while in 10–30 km and 30–60 km zones from the coast, the density is much less: 27 and 33 people per square km. Tourism has substantially increased over the recent years and it is expected to continue to grow despite the effects of global financial crisis after 2008. Coastal municipalities are also subject to major population influxes during peak vacation periods. Coastal population in summer can typically increase 20 %, but at some municipalities over 320 %. The existing facilities and infrastructure in these most crowded coastal municipalities are unable to meet this additional pressure. These peak periods often overwhelm local treatment capacity resulting in heavy impacts on natural geosystems and natural resources. Obviously, this tourism is critical to many local economies, but in order to preserve the economic benefits, we must also preserve the coastal environment that the tourists so desire. This is the challenge for coastal managers in the 21st Century.

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Correspondence to Margarita Stancheva.

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Stanchev, H., Stancheva, M. & Young, R. Implications of population and tourism development growth for Bulgarian coastal zone. J Coast Conserv 19, 59–72 (2015).

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