Bulgaria’s ski resorts have opened to the public. The first to prepare for the winter season was Bansko, one of the most important tourist destinations in the country.
The rules of the pandemic apply: social distancing and masks are mandatory in enclosed spaces, while restaurants can only serve takeout food and must close at 10 p.m. The cable cars are disinfected three times a day, although the number of people on board is not limited. Passengers are also encouraged to open the windows to improve ventilation.
“The Bansko complex was completely closed during the first wave of the coronavirus in spring. However, tourism professionals complained that the measure was excessive and that the new rules are strict enough,” says the special envoy of euronews Damian Vodenitcharov.
The shadow of what happened in the Austrian complex of Ischgl, one of the sources of infection of COVID-19 in March, still weighs on winter tourism. This is recognized by Ivan Obreykov, director of the Bansko ski area: “Bansko was closed when there were still no excessive cases of COVID-19 in the country. The authorities reacted by following the measures taken in the ski resorts of Western Europe. And the disease was spreading in the bars, not on the ski slopes. That is why the Bulgarian government has decided to open the ski resorts. “
Back in the capital, Sofia, the government hopes once again that strong domestic tourism can mitigate the financial crisis. The Tourism Minister explained its importance to Euronews: “This year we are experiencing a 70% drop in bookings. Profits in the sector were booming before the pandemic. In 2019, tourism profits exceeded one billion, to That they can get an idea of the magnitude of the financial loss. That is why once again we have our compatriots, as well as tourists from neighboring countries who can visit us with their own cars. “
Another hotly debated topic is financial aid for tourism. Entrepreneurs in this sector have been very active in this regard since the beginning of the pandemic, often threatening to organize protests if their demands are not met. Bars, restaurants and hotels benefited from significant tax cuts in the summer, as well as stimulus programs to try to avoid layoffs.