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OPINION

Putting a stake in Dracula

Romania's publicity-friendly tourism minister, Dan Matei Agathon, is looking to give a lift to investment in the state-sponsored Dracula Park - a tourist trap inspired by the vampire. He plans to start trading Dracula Park shares on the Rasdaq exchange this month.

The tourism ministry wants to raise $100 million for the park, being built in Transylvania. PricewaterhouseCoopers is adviser to the project.

Agathon has nailed his own flag to the mast of the project. On its website he declares: "Dracula Park - the most spectacular tourism project at this beginning of this millennium - is about to become reality under the Made in Romania brand."

Who could fail to be tempted by this pitch? It continues: "From Financial Times to Rooskaia Gazeta, from CNN to Euronews, BBC or New China - a media scoop that propels Romania to stardom. An important effort and a prime-time topic for international business circles. Legend and history. Reality and myth. A juxtaposition orchestrated à l'américaine, on a 100% Romanian score... At the end of this genuine tour de force, all I can say is 'I believe in Dracula Park!'"

However, others have been less effusive in their praise. Some critics - including Prince Charles and Greenpeace - have claimed the project threatens both the Unesco-listed medieval town of Sighisoara and the country's oldest oak forest, which are nearby.

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