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Dracula theme park town bites back

Some question what type of tourist the theme park would attract
Some question what type of tourist the theme park would attract

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BUCHAREST, Romania -- A bloody battle is brewing in Romania as environmentalists protest over government plans to build a Dracula theme park in a Transylvanian town.

Groups including the U.N's cultural body UNESCO to Greenpeace are opposed to the park, which they say will spoil the local environment and the medieval heritage of the town of Sighisoara.

But the government says it will not allow protesters to dictate its plans and that a survey to be released into the park's location next month will determine whether the park will go ahead or not.

"We respect UNESCO's stand ... but this is a government project and UNESCO cannot put constraints on it," a tourism ministry spokesman told Reuters on Monday.

Protesters though vowed to step up the fight. "Building a Dracula park near Sighisoara would endanger the cultural value of the city," UNESCO Secretary-General Koichiro Matsuura told Reuters this month during a visit to Romania.

Sighisoara is the birthplace of the 15th century Romanian Count Vlad Tepes, or "Vlad the Impaler" who inspired Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula."

Some opponents say they fear that the town's moral values are in danger. "This place will be invaded by those who practise satanic rites and by drugs," local priest Hans Frolich told Reuters.

"What could children see in such a park? People who sharpen their teeth and drink blood or some crazy guys clad in bed sheets and posing as ghosts? It's ridiculous," Frolich said.

The government says the 30 million euro (dollars) Disney-style park will bring about 3,000 jobs to Sighisoara, a town that has recently suffered from high unemployment.

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