Tourism above the sea level!

Tourism above the sea level!

Capital Weekly, Boryana Bachvarova, 2-8 April 2005

Bulgaria is now cheap ski vacation in the Far east of new Europe for the European tourists. The winter tourism that has just 15% of the revenue of the country in this section is now preparing to increase. After the success of Bansko, which had over 40 million Euros, the country offers another project - Super Borovets that will cost nearly 300 million euro. In certain business circles became clear that the winter tourism can bring almost the same revenues as the summer tourism and the ski can turn into a way of living in Bulgaria. A million and one resort wishes appeared in the municipals. The property market enlivened. All this activated the ecologists, whose opinion is that it is not worth to build such an imposing infrastructure for not more than three months active season. The Bulgarian Tourism Union holds the rights over the mountain Chalets and has no intentions to privatize them. No wonder that most of them are abandoned and no one uses them. The ski tourism in Bulgaria is preparing for a jump. The winter resorts, which traditionally were of less importance for the economy, quite dropped behind compared to the summer resorts, after the flourishing of the sea tourism. The ski tourism provides just 15% of the total tourism revenue from tourism. This percent is almost equal to the out of season one and in the inner parts of the country (15-20%). In comparison the summer tourism is obviously dominating with its 65-70%. The development of the mountain tourism is inevitable, because at the moment Bulgaria offers just around 15 000 good quality beds. In comparison, the mountain beds in France are over 1.2 million. - commented the vice minister of culture and tourism Dimitar Hadjinikolov. This will happen not only because of the Borovets project, but also for projects as Siutka over Velingrad or over Sapareva Banja, he added. It became clear that there is still no concept for the development of the ski tourism in Bulgaria. At the same time Banskos success, gave birth to many ideas for winter tourism in the country. Of course, we should not forget that Bansko received 40 million euro investments for its ski center for the last two years. Banskos development was actually due to the first serious investments in the winter tourism for the resent decades. For example, Borovets and Pamporovo have been built by the end of the 60s and the beginning of the 70s last century, covering the old standards of that time. The response of the new ski investments was the idea Borovets to be made three times bigger that it is now with investments for nearly 300 million euro. The development of Pamporovo was also considered as a possibility. A ski resort for 30- 40 million euro is now considered to be a standard project, judging by plans of Berkovica, Razlog, Teteven and Chepelare municipals. The unusual part of the mountain tourism is that it is high above the sea level. This means that huge investments in infrastructure are needed for its development. What is more, compared to the investments in sea hotels, which can reinstate for two-, three years, the return of the capital in the mountain areas can be done after 12-13 years. Before the beginning of the major project in Bansko, the lifts and ski pistes were built by the government. This means that not just one private investor, but a whole consortium is needed for the future projects. The ski tourism is for the huge investors. For example Banskos project is connected to the support of First Investment Bank. The sport infrastructure of Borovets now is taken by MG Corporation. The infrastructure association Pamporovo joint stock company is connected to EISBank. By the end of the 90s when the infrastructure of the ski resorts was in a process of privatization the question was how to eliminate the others, who have interest in it. Now the question is how to attract them. The arguments are about the percent of shares that the investors will possess in the company for the construction of infrastructure. The municipal is obliged to take part in the so-called companies, and for larger investments, a state support will be sought. In other words, the development of ski resorts requires public and private partnership with all the difficulties that might occur- from the luck of experience to the risk of predominance of interests. The building of ski resorts is a mutual inspiration of the mountain municipals, the investors and the local population, who foresee a way out of their economic backwardness, new territories for development and savior from unemployment. It is possible that few big ski-equipment produces in the world support that initiative. (Some municipals know the trademark of the future ski drugs even before the projects are ready.) In that case, the different interests are mutually carrying each other forward. When the enthusiasm led to a particular investment in the infrastructure - for example for the construction of a cabin-lift in Bansko, it becomes attractive for a larger group of people. Property investors come up on the horizon, foreigners looking for rural properties, construction undertakers, looking for rapid profits from vacation apartments. The property market in the region enlivens and the local people can receive higher price for their property. At the same time, the things are going out of control and the area gets industrialized. The high risk from the winter resorts is that precious natural resources are sacrificed for their prosperity- trees are being cut. This does not look worthy if the resort is not filled through the whole year. The global hating makes the three months winter season on the level of out mountains doubtful. The investors are also aware of that fact and that is why they prefer the highest parts of the mountains. In that way they are tempted to enter the five per cent protected territories in Bulgaria. That is why the parliament received a governmental bill for a change in the law for the protected areas in Bulgaria. It makes it easier to transform the ownership from public- national or municipal in a private one, when there are current plans for management and detailed system plans. The Eco organizations reacted loudly at the attempt for construction works in the protected territories. Many people see the result of the argument between the ecologists and investors in either pro or con for the development of the plans. However there are still people like Dimitar Hadginikolov who say: In this process the eco organizations are corrective and partners and the mutual dialog can create a base for development of steady types of tourism. At that moment, the ecologists are mainly corrective. The problem is that at that moment no one suggests more attractive alternative than the ski development to the municipals. The green tourism is nature friendly but the profits are not so big and are spread in time. It is also not of such interest for the investors. It is clear that the development of the ski tourism cannot be altered. The main idea is to be kept in the proper areas, and not to let it damage the resources for the development of eco- tourism. The overbuilding of the summer resorts is now considered a problem with price effects. Catalogues of famous foreign tour operators advertise some sea hotels with less star categorization then the official, just because they are situated on an extra-urbanized area.
     
  • Tommyboy From Scotland
    Sent on 07 April 2018
    5th time skiing in Bansko, have been here over Xmas period and Easter break, hasn't always been a lot of snow but enough to ski for five days. It is a good value for money skiing holiday for those on a budget, food very good value and varied depending on taste, some restaurants better than others, again depending on personal taste. Not to sure what the nightlife is like as we stay in our timeshare resort The Balkan Jewel which is 3 > 4 miles out of Bansko, they operate a free shuttle bus but the last one back from town is at 4.30pm therefore going back into town would require the use of taxis. I am sure we will be back in the future.
  • Mitko From Bulgaria
    Sent on 28 February 2018
    Dear all, Borovets is a nice place to be, but it is risky to ski there. The slopes for advanced skiers are crossing the slopes for beginners and the slopes are negligently prepared with icy spots and snow heap places. This all is a precondition for accidents. The ski lifts are maintained all on the surface, they stop frequently and the gondola had to be scrapped years ago. So be careful when skiing in Borovets!
  • Lene willsea From N.i
    Sent on 28 February 2018
    I love Pomporova. Its our home from home.We first went in 2008, the airport was a portacabin and the lifts were a dangling wooden chair.. The place improves year on year. I would highly recommend it. VERY CHEAP once ur there. But with all upgrades the prices to travel are clinbing. Jumped 200 in two yrs.
  • Neo From United Kingdom
    Sent on 15 February 2018
    The hotel it’s a brilliant idea however there are aspects you would be surprised to stumble upon We arrived late at night about 10pm. Greater by a very polite hostes she kindly provided us with prepacked sandwiches as the restaurant closed at 9pm ( we called in advance to ask if such is possible especially when you have young ckranky from long travel hours in multiple travel vechicles The room very spatious. Bed cover had some suspicious sticky stains that absolutely horrified me at the thought that my children could possibly put their tiny hands on to that. One of the bath robes provided had a black stain on its back, the other bath robe had its pocket thorn out and just hanging. There was a massive flaky, mouldy, damp patch in the corner on the ceiling. The toilet was leaking on the floor. Breakfast food was cold and rancid with a queue for pncakes quite long and very impatient as pancakes was the only food that you could have still warm. Boiled eggs were cold and so hard the yolk was dusty . Fried eggs were dry... won’t even go to details about the rest of the food. As the drinks offered to be purchased by the restaurant aren’t the healthiest of choice for children (all the juices on choice contained added multiple preserving agents and colourants) we asked if possible to have some tap water. It proved to be a terrible mistake, we were told that yes but we would have to pay for it, then told that if they bring a jug for us everyone else will be asking for it, then he brought a manager who was more rude than the server and plainly put it that even if we have children asking for water we would have to buy bottled water and she is not prepared to give us water for free, unnecessarily often stressing the ?free’ word. There are far more many good things that are good about this hotel. It’s main let down it’s restaurant staff who are poor hospitality professionals and frankly plain rude.
  • Nigel Buckle From United Kingdom
    Sent on 17 December 2017
    I have stayed at the Orlovetz for 6 out of the last 8 years and will be returning in 2018 for another week. It has become my 'Winter retreat'. A modern hotel that stands out due to its prominent position and its design. The rooms are comfortable and warm with plenty of wardrobe space and an area to relax. The safe is in the wardrobe, which is really useful for your valuables. There is a decently equipped gym, a small pool (though you can also use the larger pool in the Perelik as well) a Sauna and massage treatments, great for those aches from the first days of skiing ! The restaurant was made larger a couple of years ago and now accommodates more guests. Both breakfast and dinner are buffet style, the food, in general, is of good quality and there usually at least four different options at dinner. There is a small bar in the lobby area and a Piano Bar on the top floor that has stunning views across the surrounding district. As it is the sister hotel to the Perelik there is a tunnelway that links the two and saves you going out in the snow if you choose to use the alternative facilities provided there. One of them being 'The Pub' (previously known as the Pampi Bar) plus a couple of night clubs and a bowling alley. Also as the Orlovetz is just across from the Schnezanka it is only a short walk to Daks Bar, often used as the first mornings meeting place for your ski passes etc.,which is a lively night spot with live music and very popular. In all a great Hotel within a great small town, try it , Pamper yourself !
  • Liz From England
    Sent on 19 November 2017
    I went with my daughter January 2018. I was a cheap half board flights included and we wasn’t expecting much.... but what a fantastic week we had!! Stayed at the Lion hotel which is about a 10-15 minute walk to the slopes/town. A free shuttle is provide by the hotel. The hotel and staff are lovely. The food was always varied and hot. My daughter and I are vegetarians and in only two nights were we disappointed with the choice - but we heaped up on pudding so didn’t go hungry. Am lucky enough to be going back in 2018.
  • val From United Kingdom
    Sent on 15 February 2017
    group of us just back from borovets.we arrived 4th feb 2017 and departed 11th feb.had a great time.hotel rila was fab.great gym and spa.food was good.ski school was great.we had a really good instructor Martin Hristov.he was really good with everyone took time to try and learn everyone.we all had a great time thankyou.will be back next yearx
  • Alison From England
    Sent on 15 January 2017
    I wonder if the poor review is really about the Winslow Elegance. We have been going for years. It does not serve food and never has done. However, the spacious accommodation is for self-catering. We have always found it to be clean and we have always found that the reception staff can not do enough for you. We are looking forward to our next visit in February, 2017, Bring it on!!
  • RobJ From UK
    Sent on 01 January 2017
    Had a great week over xmas there - Hotel Lion was great, didn't see any lift queues but I did get there early. Easy blues for the most part, not loads for the advanced skier but great for beginners and families. I had more fun here than Chamonix last year at the same time. Bottom line ...manage your expectations... it is more than value for money but don't expect Whistler.
  • Pepa From Madrid
    Sent on 24 August 2016
    Un citio presioso pero todo lo demas mentira.la comida,el personal muy mal.No lo recomiendo a nadie.Es una publicidad engañosa.Y de All inclusive nada.No se dejen engañar por las paginas web.Por desgracia en Bulgaria todavia el consumidor no es nadie.
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