The Global credit crunch is affecting even ski resorts now. Bansko, in Bulgaria, despite still being heavily marketed, is feeling the pinch also. Interest in the town dropped off severely in 2007, with prices for hotel rooms dropping, and occupancy down.
Also affected are property prices and with a lack of interest from UK buyers, Bansko is attempting to pull in investors from Russia, Spain and Greece instead. Presumably the Spanish like to head away from the horrible winter weather, much like the Brits.
Part of the reason for the slowdown is the recent ban on developments, implemented by the the EU’s “Natura 2000,” network. Natura 2000 is an EU wide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive. The aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats. It is comprised of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designated by Member States under the Habitats Directive, and also incorporates Special Protection Areas (SPAs) which they designate under the 1979 Birds Directive. Natura 2000 is not a system of strict nature reserves where all human activities are excluded. Whereas the network will certainly include nature reserves most of the land is likely to continue to be privately owned and the emphasis will be on ensuring that future management is sustainable, both ecologically and economically. The establishment of this network of protected areas also fulfils a Community obligation under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
Interestingly, when supply is low, one would expect prices to rise rather than fall, but this seems not to be the case in Bansko, thanks to some heavy over-building in the earlier stages of their development.
Full marks for effort on the part of the local authorities. Desperate to generate more interest in their town and keep prices from dropping, Bansko is being marketed in a variety of ‘creative,’ ways – our current favorite is the slogan, “Bansko-Good Snow, Nice People and Cheap Beer.” Sounds good to us. Cunningly disguised as newspaper editorials, here is a quote from a local ‘News’, website: “Since the past 2-3 years, there is massive increase in the value of property and Bansko wins the reputation of a winter resort with good skiing, good snow, nice people, and cheap beer.”
Better luck next time guys.