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Thursday, March 23, 2006 

Building season begins in Bulgaria's ski resorts

The reputation of Bulgaria as a premier country for ski holidays is continuing to grow and investors are starting to take advantage of this by snapping up properties.

According to the Sofia News Agency, there is currently a large selection of plots for sale in Bansko and Pamporovo – two of the country's finest ski resorts.

Citing the Investor.bg website, the Sofia News Agency states that offers are now pouring in as the new building season gets underway, with investors keen to find themselves a bargain that will presumably gain a tremendous amount in terms of value during the coming years.

It is an option that is increasingly appealing to investors who have become frustrated by high prices in alternatives including Austria and France, with property in Bulgaria still remarkably cheap despite the quality of the ski slopes.

Nonetheless, it is claimed that the ever-popular Bansko is seeing much higher prices than some of the other resorts, starting at around €50 per square metre and rising to around €150.

The report suggests that there are approximately 450 plots for sale in Bansko, with existing ski properties and off-plan projects attracting interest in equal measure. As prices begin to rise considerably in the country, off-plan investment has been tipped as a particularly sensible option, in that house price inflation can mean that investors have made huge returns on properties before they are even completed.

The ski resorts have also seen hotels and rented accommodation springing up in recent years to cater for the growing number of tourists hitting the areas each season.

With Bulgaria still seen as relatively undiscovered, many are combining the traditional ski holiday with an opportunity to explore the spectacular scenery, with the Black Sea resorts and the capital city of Sofia similarly popular.

Tourism inevitably has a significant impact on property investment and it is a factor that is expected to affect Bulgaria more than most.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts that the travel and tourism sector will grow by 6.3 per cent this year in Bulgaria and by 4.3 per cent per annum, in real terms, between 2007 and 2016.

In terms of its direct and indirect impact, travel and tourism is likely to contribute 16 per cent of GDP and 13.6 per cent of total employment this year, both of which should be instrumental in enhancing the property market.

While Bulgaria is still only 68th out of 174 countries represented in the WTTC survey, the speed with which Bulgaria has emerged as a tourist hotspot has been striking and it is a trend that can only improve the country's reputation for investment.

Bulgaria is not without problems, however, and the Sofia News Agency has reported that Delia Meth-Cohn, senior consultant for CEEMEA at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), remains concerned over infrastructure and state administration.

EU accession is a step that will be crucial in determining just how substantial the economic growth in the country will be, but speculative investors are already banking on impressive capital gains by purchasing cheap properties in ski resorts and beach resorts alike.

Source: Assetz News

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