YEREVAN, DECEMBER 17, ARTSAKHPRESS. The 2022/2023 winter tourist season will open in the Bansko ski resort (Southwestern Bulgaria) on Saturday.
The season will be formally launched in the town square in the evening in the presence of Bulgarian Tourism Minister Ilin Dimitrov, three-times Olympic champion Maria Hofl-Riesch and five-time World Cup overall champion Marc Girardelli. The programme includes a presentation and tasting of traditional local dishes, a folk music and dance performance, and a fire show.
The BTA correspondents report that the opening of the ski season in the other two major winter resorts, Pamporovo and Borovets, has been postponed for next week because the spring temperature have melted the snow cover. Pamporovo AD are planning to put the snow-making machines in operation this Saturday and Sunday, and the season will start on December 22 or 23 at the latest.
At Borovets, snow is produced whenever weather permits, and the company running the ski area said it is looking forward to snow falls and low temperatures.
Deputy Tourism Minister Irena Georgieva expects that the winter resorts will rely again on local clients. Traditionally, Bulgarian tourists log some 1 million arrivals, checking in at accommodations with 10 and more bed places. More foreign tourists are expected, too, considering the interest registered in the markets of the UK, Romania, Israel, North Macedonia, Serbia and Greece.
The Tourism Ministry projects a 5 to 10% growth this year compared to the 2021/2022 season. The sector expects 400,000 arrivals monthly or more than 1.2 million overall for the December-April period, which is at the same level or even better than in 2019, when the industry in Bulgaria had one of its top years. Bansko expects 12% more tourists, Pamporovo 15% more, and Borovets the same margin, said Deputy Tourism Minister Mirela Modeva, quoting local government sources.
On the average, winter-tourism-related services and goods are expected to be 10 to 15% more expensive this year, which is still below the inflation rate, sector executives say. Winter holidays with skiing in Bulgaria are competitively priced compared to Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France.
Prices vary widely, from BGN 11,000-plus for four nights at a presidential suite during the New Year season to BGN 60-100 per night inclusive of a festive dinner at a mountain chalet. Most foreign tourists can afford four- and five-star hotels and traditionally prefer these accommodation facilities, which account for 75% of foreign nationals’ overnight stays and for just 4% of Bulgarians’.
Despite the challenges, revenues from overnight stays reached BGN 40.8 million in 2021 (of which BGn 28.1 million from Bulgarians and BGN 12.7 millions from foreigners). The total number of overnight stays at all accommodations in December 2021 was 127.3% up from December 2020.
To cope with the expected increase in the tourist flow this year, Bansko and Razlog will need between 38 and 41 police officers to be posted to the two municipalities between December 15 and March 15, mayors Ivan Kadev and Ventsislav Garmenov said.
Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev said that some an extra 30 police officers can be sent to Bansko for the winter tourist season, but the local authority cannot afford to pay for their accommodation, and the business community does not help in this respect, either.
Bansko needs an additional emergency medical team to respond to skiing injuries. The EMS in Blagoevgrad should spare some of its resources for this purpose and, failing this, posting an additional medical team will be contemplated, Deputy Health Minister Lidia Chorbanova said.
Razlog Mayor Ventsislav Garmenov said that his municipality is ready for snow cleaning of the roads and for garbage collection.
In late November, Ulen CEO Maya Hristoskova asked the National Assembly Tourism Committee to support the construction of a second gondola in the Bansko ski area – a problem that has been open for years, which forces skiers to wait for a long time at the lower lift station. Committee Chairman Tsoncho Ganev agreed that this situation is abnormal and said that the issue can be discussed with the caretaker cabinet or with a future regular government, if any.
Vitosha Ski acting Executive Director Yan Kalchev argued that the dereliction of the ski area on Mt Vitosha because the institutions representing the State lack a vision mars Sofia’s image and denies the residents of the capital city, and especially children, the opportunity to practise winter sports.