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Difficult and unpredictable winter tourist season is near its end

Photo: borovets-bg

Bulgarian tourists have failed to compensate for the unprecedented outflow of foreign guests from this country’s ski resorts in recent months. The coronavirus and anti-epidemic measures this winter have caused an extremely difficult season with losses that put the sector to a serious test. Representatives of the industry have started talking about bankruptcies. It is a fact that Bulgarian resorts have worked wonders to attract Bulgarian tourists in recent months, showing flexibility and entrepreneurship and heroically facing the challenge.

Borovets ski resort, Rila Mountain

According to statistics, the lowest outflow was marked in Borovets. According to website Mediapool, the explanation is that Borovets is very close to the capital city of Sofia and is full of tourists and skiers during the weekends. According to NSI data, the decline in overnight stays and revenues from tourism is about 60% on an annual basis, as in January 2021 the number of tourists in the resort declined by one third.

Pamporovo ski resort, Rhodope Range

Hoteliers in Pamporovo had more pessimistic expectations for the season. But with the opening of the ski runs at the end of January, hotels gradually started filling up. In addition, a check by Mediapool showed that some hotels near the slopes were 100% occupied throughout the winter season. However, the NSI reported a 64% drop in overnight stays on an annual basis. In January, the number of tourists in the resort was two times smaller than usual and revenues during the month fell by 63% compared to the same period last year.

Bansko ski runs, Pirin Mountain

What is the situation in Bansko? This winter the resort relied on weekend packages and Bulgarian tourists. Since the beginning of the season, the decline reported by the hotel business in the resort has reached nearly 80 percent. Half of the hotels did not open at all this winter and two days before the country entered the partial lockdown on March 22, others started closing too, BNR reports. "The season was over before its end, just like it was in the past year. But this one was devastating," Rumyana Monevska, manager of one of the most successful hotels, told BNR Horizont and added:

"The staff is leaving, the last guests have left and there are no new reservations. This is a loss for the business! The season could not go normally. The business covered its expenses for a while and then started losing money once again. We are in the red again. The fact that there is snow and the ski area is open doesn't mean anything!”

One of Bansko's hotels

5-star hotels are also closing. They welcomed most of their guests in February, because only Bulgarian winter resorts were open then and wealthy tourists from abroad arrived to the country. Expectations of authorities that the pandemic would be beneficial to guest houses and small family hotels, like it happened during the last summer, have not been confirmed. Here is what owner of a small family hotel Raya Valkova, says:

"We had an extremely difficult season despite the forecasts of the Ministry of Tourism that guests would prefer the small hotels. The small ones even remained unsupported by measures because they have a turnover of less than 15,000 euros, which was the support limit. We have been calling for a change, but nothing has been done."

Compiled by: Veneta Nikolova

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: borovets-bg, BGNES, banskoski.com, library

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