ARTICLES 
BANSKO SKI RESORT: 10 NEW HOTELS ARE UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Interview by Vladimir Simeonov, Standard Daily, 8 June 2004


Interview with the mayor of Bansko Mr. Alexandar Kravarov
250,000 skiers and tourists visited the town of Bansko during the winter season, says Mr. Kravarov, the mayor of the town. He was one of the first people to support the construction of the major new ski center
Q: Mr. Kravarov, was the last winter season successful for the town of Bansko?
A: It was much more successful than expected. A comparison with the season of 2002, reveals that this year the ski pistes above the town were visited and enjoyed by twice as many tourists at about 250 000. However, we expected this increase in numbers, since now there are installed many new machines and equipment a Gondola lift, lifts, new pistes.
The organization provided by the investor Yulen Company was perfect. There were no queues for the liftes or the pistes and no tension, despite the great number of tourists. Everything was perfect: the employees of the company, the equipment, and the citizens. We almost did not have any complaints by the tourists.
Q: Your task, as a mayor, is to turn Bansko into a year-round holiday place and not only an attractive ski resort. Do you have some plans about that?
A: We opened the summer season on the 22nd of May, which coincided with the holiday of the town. We really try hard to attract visitors during the summer with numerous cultural festivities. The Amateur Ensembles Festival Among three mountains already finished.




However, we have prepared several interesting spectacles, which we expect to be visited both by Bulgarians and foreigners. As we all know, on Saturday (12.06.) starts the European Football Championship in Portugal. At that time will began a huge beer festival in Bansko: we plan to instal several video walls and to invite different bands, which will entertain the football fans every night.
Our traditional cultural program, includes the Jazz Festival 8-13 August, the Rock Concert of Manfred Dill 14 August and the Festival of the Macedonian Music Pirin Folk 27-28 August. Bansko is destined to become a summer cultural center; we have about 150 cultural monuments here!
Q: We know that you have serious troubles with the narrow and bumpy streets, the dirtiness, the numerous animal flocks, which pass over the entire town. How do you plan to solve these problems?
A: It wont be easy; there are many problems like that. But we are motivated to go straight ahead. The streets are in awful condition, we have problems with the water drainage system and the electricity. However, we have already prepared an electricity investment project for the next 4 years together with the Electric Company the town of Blagoevgrad and the Ministry of Energetic. We need to expend the substation, because the current one is not enough and does not correspond to the electricity loading from the ski-centre.
Our project for the water-drainage system of the city is also ready. At the moment it is 40 km long (76 km if the holiday area is included). Thus we need to have a serious investment, zoning of the water pressure and new water supply. We also have a problem with the waste waters, because the drainage system is not adapted to the enormous construction work going on in the town. Thus we plan to build a collector for the subterranean waters.
Q: Where do you plan to find funds about it?
A: We make the best we can to provide funds. Our town is lacking behind the ski-zone. The ski-zone is hyper modern, with equipment produced in 2002, while the town below is small with the problems that such towns face. We apply for all EU programs, but till now have received funds only from Beautiful Bulgaria Project. Till the end of the year, we expect the Ministry of Energetic to invest in the region approximately 1 million BGN. We also expect to receive 2 million BGN from SAPARD Program for substitution of the drainage system and covering of the streets with asphalt. For the water purifying system we need 4 million Euro. The two collectors, which are to lead the waste waters to the station, cost 7 million BGN both. For an overall town-development we need at about 50 million BGN, but lets be realistic, we can not change everything overnight.

Q: Some people still consider Bansko as a very small town, rather a village. Do they have a right to talk like that?
A: Well, Bansko is not a big town. But it is turning into a modern resort. Recently, we presented a motion before the Regional Council for determination of special zones for animal farms, vegetable and fruit gardens and our idea was approved. These farms will be located outside the town.

Q: At the moment, all over the town are constructed numerous hotels. Does Bansko need more hotels? Are the already existing ones not enough?
A: The businessmen know that with the new ski-centre the number of the tourists will inevitably rise. Our accommodation base is not enough and they invest their money in that. At the moment are constructed 10 new hotels with 200 beds each. They are built close to the gondola cable car. 40 new projects shall start after they receive a license by the Municipality.

Q: Three other municipalities Razlog, Yakoruda and Belitsa hope that they will also benefit from Bansko being a popular winter resort. Do you plan to work alone or to work mutually with the other municipalities?
A: The future of Bansko is tightly connected with that of the other municipalities. We plan to develop a ski zone with center the village of Dobriniste. It will be similar to that above the town of Bansko. But it urgently needs many new hotels. In case the investment is over 20 million Euro, the village will need at least 2 000 beds. And it does not have it. Actually, at the moment a new hotel is constructed there and another one will start by the end of the year. Each one will offer at about 100 beds. However, this is only the beginning.

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