The seasons in the ski centers across Macedonia will start, but the investments in them have been delayed for decades

Popova Shapka
Popova Shapka / Photo: MIA

The skiing season officially starts at the Mavrovo ski center this Thursday, and skiing at Popova Shapka is expected to start in December, given the announced snowfall.

Snowfall and lower temperatures will start the season earlier this year in the ski centers in Macedonia, which are not even close to the winter tourist centers in the region.

Unlike many ski centers in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, our authorities do not invest so much in the development of winter tourist centers, even though it is a mountainous country with great potential, says Ognen Tsigoski, director of the Mavrovo resort.

"We need to constantly learn from the ski centers of the region, because they are really constantly succeeding." But it is obvious that here the state does not participate in investing in the mountain centers in Macedonia, where there are more than 50 peaks, and we do not have many successful mountain stories. I hope that the state will take an active part in investing in the mountain centers. Because the investment returns. An example is Mavrovo, and with the investments we made, we managed to raise the region, apartments are being built, the price of land has increased and salaries are higher. It is time for the state to say that it is ready to invest," says Ognen Tsigoski, director of Mavrovo Resort.

Ski center Mavrovo signed an agreement with Olympic center Jahorina from Bosnia and Herzegovina, with which tourists from both countries with a season ticket from one center will be able to use the services of both centers.

Photo: Sloboden pechat/Zoran Dimovski

Those who have a season pass from Mavrovo will be able to use cable cars and ski lifts for two days in the Jahorina ski center, but also vice versa.

Dejan Levenic director of Ski Center Jahorina from Bosnia and Herzegovina, who previously managed the Kopaonik ski center in Serbia for ten years and made it one of the most successful in the region, says that a successful center requires a clear strategy and a clear plan from all stakeholders in the country, the investor, the central , but also local authorities.

He pointed out human capital as the most important link in the whole process, because without experts in this area, investments do not mean much.

The winter tourist centers of the region should function as one, this is the practice in Western countries, says Levenic from the Jahorina center, which has signed contracts with 12 ski resorts.

"I think we should work as much as possible on joint projects and act as one ski center. This is how the western ski centers perform, there 12 ski centers have joined into one. We have concluded such agreements with the ski centers throughout the former Yugoslavia, and many skiers take advantage of this. On the other hand, our Jahorina ski center has started the ski season. We have invested a lot in cable cars, a new snow installation, we have many more tourists and this season is already sold out. We have guests from China, Europe and the whole world. You have the best potential of all the countries of the former Yugoslavia. You have high mountains, here in Mavrovo you have a lake for snowmaking. We have no sea and we have to invest in mountains, but it is important to have good experts because mistakes will cost dearly. All the central and local authorities must come together to develop tourism. Now it's easier to find money for investment, but human capital is a little harder to find, there must be experts", said Dejan Levenic, director of Ski Center Jehorina.

The Bosnian ambassador in the country Dragan Jacimovic believes that only through joint projects and cooperation can we have successful tourism stories. He welcomed the agreement for skiing with one card in the Mavrovo and Jahorina ski centers, noting that only such steps will contribute to the increase of foreign tourists in both countries.

"It is a great pleasure to support tourism. Since last month we have had a direct line Skopje-Saravevo which will contribute to increasing the number of tourists and I am especially glad that the number of tourists from Bosnia to Macedonia has increased by more than 22% and vice versa, we will also introduce an airplane line Banja Luka - Ohrid let's work that way", said the Bosnian ambassador to the country, Dragan Jacimović.

And that there is no investment in the centers, the situation in the Popova Shapka ski center also speaks for itself, where there are still no investments from the announced investment plan of the company from Italy "Techno Alpine", which according to the Government and the management of the center should have invested in the installation of artificial snow , construction of 600 new parking spaces, two new ski slopes, construction of two hotels, as well as two new cable cars with six and eight seats.

Investments were supposed to start this spring, there are still no activities on the ground. From the management of the Popova Shapka ski center, they say that they are currently only carrying out regular checks on all cable cars before the start of the ski season.

That's why they recently told "Sloboden Pechat" that negotiations with a potential foreign investor for Popova Shapka are still ongoing.

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