Economic development and investments in Bansko resort

Economic development and investments in Bansko resort

BNR, Krassimir Martinov & Iva Letnikova, 09.02.2006

Economic development and investments in Bansko resort Bansko the capital of winter resorts in East Europe is what journalist Wolf Alexander Hannisch wrote in an article for the German Die Zeit weeklyat the beginning of this year. A British tourist manual for 2006 on the other hand called the mountain town of Bansko The fastest modernizing winter resort of Europe. %LIMG3The citizens of Bansko have by now got used to such statements but they are nevertheless pleased to be flattered. Besides their daily hard work, investments from outside are also playing a role. Unemployment in Bansko is Nil and it has considerably dropped all over the region around it. For the period 2001-2004 more than 180 million Euro have been invested in the resort. %LIMG2In the last 4 years the development in Bansko has grown more than any of us has ever expected, Mayor Alexander Kravarov explains. At the moment we have permits for the building of 590 thousand square meters of total area. Last years income plan envisaged 5.8 million Leva while actual revenues reached 9.5 million Leva. This explains why the town is called by both Bulgarian and foreign media the fastest developing resort in Europe. Our summer season in 2005 was quite successful, which meets our intentions to turn Bansko into an all-the-year-round resort center. In summer we organized also four culture events that drew additionally visitors to Bansko. Over 200 thousand people spent their summer vacation in our town. In the winter of 2004-2005 we registered some 500 thousand visitors, while this year tour operator data make us expect a 20% growth of tourists mainly from abroad, especially from Great Britain. %LIMG1Related to the towns development and the main living in the locality is the highly intensive construction process in latter years. The tendency now is to reduce the building of hotels and to increase housing construction. The people who buy these newly built housing estates are mainly foreign nationals. This enhanced construction process is to a certain extent bothering but we cannot restrict it because it provides jobs to about 6 000 construction workers in the region," Mayor Kravarov further explains. "In this way we have brought unemployment down in near-by municipalities as well, like Yakoruda and Belitsa from 70% down to 30%. In the town of Razlog unemployment dropped to 15%, while at our place, in Bansko, it is nil. For the time being Bansko offers private dwellings for accommodation, family hotels, recreation centers and hotel complexes for receiving nearly 6400 guests. Accommodation capacity in the resort has increased two and a half times since 2002. Many new hotels of varying category have been built in that period. In 2005 opened the first 5-star hotel of a prominent world chain. Good food and entertainment are also taken care of in Bansko. Restaurants, wineries and fast food spots are as many as 185. Snack bars and pubs are about 70. 15 disco clubs and bars function within the town. The extreme development of our town goes in all directions, Yanka Rahova Chairperson of the Union of Tourist Business in Bansko comments. Accommodation capacities have greatly increased but so has the quality of servicing. All new buildings are very well equipped and all the older ones have been refurbished. This is to a certain extent due to the existing tourism college in the town providing us with qualified people for each branch. On the other hand we have an influx of working hand, people from various parts of the country wishing to work in Bansko; mostly young people with good language skills and the necessary level of education. I believe that Bansko has also correctly sensed the pulse of the tourist business also in view of its price policy. Ours is one of the few resort in the country disposing of a wide range of price lists, from 7.5 Euro for a bed up to 100 Euro in a 4-star hotel, Mrs. Rahneva explains.