According to a draft law submitted to the Environment Ministry in July this year by the Danube Delta Biosphere Reservation Authority (ARBDD) the last wild beaches from Sulina and Sfantu Gheorghe could be given into concession to private companies by auction. The project stipulates that the beaches can be rented for a ten years period and the warranty to participate in this auction will cost 10 percent from the annual rent.
The representatives of the Reservation Authority say that 50 percent of the funds collected annually will be spent for the protection and conservation of the beaches and for studies to stop the erosion process of the beaches. But as the Reservation Authority is subordinated to the Environment Ministry, the money should go, according to the law, to the state budget. A decision regarding the privatization will be taken soon as an answer from the Environment Ministry regarding the project is expected.
Project sparks debate between local authorities
The ARBDD plan to use 50 percent of the money to be raised from annual rent is contested by the local authorities in Sfantu Gheorghe and Sulina. The mayor of Sfantu Gheorghe, Dumitru Dimache, and vice-mayor of Sulina, Andrei Mihai have criticized the decision of the Reservation Authority to privatize the beaches saying that the project doesn't stipulates a pre-emption right for the local authorities. “We studied the project and we saw that the beaches could be rented to any private person or company without any right for local authorities. Although the beaches aren't administrated by anyone right now we take care of the cleaning and the road is kept in good condition also by us. We should be the ones to have the first right to get the beaches and only if we couldn't administrate them, then get the involvement of private companies,” said Dumitru Dimache, the mayor of Sfantu Gheorghe.
Delta makes fertile land for new developments
While the Danube Delta Reservation authorities and Sfantu Gheorghe and Sulina mayors keep busy with the debate, some businessmen have already expressed their interest to rent the beaches, while others have already developed projects in the area.
Silviu Prigoana, owner of Rosal Grup, and Bogdan Buzaianu, a businessman with links with Energy Holding, are just a few names that have expressed interest in the business potential of the Danube Delta.
Many businessmen have built in the last years million euros ‘nests' in the region.
Alexandru Bittner, a close friend of former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, owns at Gura Portitei, the Eden complex and through his companies he controls an important part of the concessions in the Danube Delta. The tariff for a room in this tourist complex is almost EUR 100, while for an apartment it is of EUR 125. But with the development of large scale tourist developments comes the downside for those who used to choose the Delta for a more modest accommodation. The tents which were wide spread on the beach aren't allowed at Gura Portitei, as the resort is surrounded with a fence.
Another businessman involved in Delta projects is Sorin Marin. The initiator of movie festival “Anonymous,” which takes place each August at Sfantu Gheorghe, invested several million euros in the Delfinul complex. Here a four star room all inclusive costs more than EUR 200 per person per day.
Robert Raduta, known because of the friendship with businessman Ion Tiriac, exploits the resources from Chilia beginning with 2003. A former tennis coach, Raduta is the president of the hunting association “Zimbrul” and got involved in sportive fishing contests.
State promises helping hand for Delta investments
In May this year the government announced that it would invest EUR 140 million until 2015 for the program to protect and develop the Danube Delta. “More than half of the sum will be spend on projects the development of infrastructure, public utilities as transportation and communication,” said Attila Korodi, the Environment Minister.
The funds are welcomed because the area needs this type of investment. It remains to be seen how Romania's emerging middle class will benefit from this.