The company that runs the Vitosha ski area, the main Bulgarian ski centre for the country’s capital Sofia, has said it won’t open the ski centre this winter as the long-running conflict between environmental groups and ski resort operators intensifies.
The main issue dividing the two interest groups at almost every Bulgarian ski area is the continued expansion of operations with the legal approvals from the National Park land.
Over the years, Bulgaria has faced escalating criticism from international groups and agencies including UNESCO for overbuilding in other popular resorts such as Bansko.
In Vitosha’s case, the ski lift operator said changes to Bulgaria’s Forestry Act meant it could not run the centre within the law. The law requires that the company clear land around ski lifts of undergrowth but Vitosha Ski, the company that owns the ski lifts, said it could not clear the land as it had no legal right to do so, having failed to provide an adequate environmental impact assessment last year.
Environmental groups organised an ‘unofficial opening’ of the slopes without lifts operating last month. A source that is closely associated with the matter said, “The past 10 years have allowed Bulgarian ski sport and tourism to be overtaken by several mutually intertwined offshore companies which have deployed concerted pricing practices to make skiing and tourism an expensive pastime”.
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