Aleko ski lift station on Vitosha Mountain
Vitosha Ski, the company that owns the ski lifts and maintains the ski runs on Vitosha Mountain near Sofia, said on December 2 that it would not run the lifts on the mountain this year.
The company said that the amendments to the Forestry Act, passed earlier this year, made it impossible to run the concession legally. Specifically, the company said that it could not clear the ground near under the lifts, as required by law, because it had no management rights on the land.
To acquire such rights from the forestry authorities, the company needed a detailed development plan, which the Environment Ministry rejected earlier, citing a poorly-done environmental impact assessment.
Vitosha Ski's claims were confirmed by the executive director of the Forestry Agency, Bisser Dachev, who told website dnevnik.bg that his agency would organise a meeting with representatives of the company and the Environment Ministry to find a solution. However, amending the law would take months, he said, which would likely shut down ski runs on Vitosha for the entire winter season.
"We hope that the legislative chaos will be overcome and the Aleko ski area in Vitosha nature park will start operations as soon as possible," the company said.
This is not the first time that Vitosha Ski, linked by Bulgarian media to Bulgarian Ski Federation president Tseko Minev, has threatened to shut down its operations during winter. The company did the same in 2009, when Minev asked Prime Minister Boiko Borissov to intervene, but in the end the company still opened the lifts for business.
Although significantly shorter than the runs in Bulgaria's largest resorts, like Bansko and Borovets, the runs on Vitosha are a favourite weekend and evening skiing spots for Sofians because of the location and lower ski pass prices.