There aren’t many places in Europe where you can take a skiing holiday on a budget without some sort of compromise in terms of the quality of the snow and the resort. Until 2013 Bovec in Slovenia was a fabulous choice with low prices, a pleasant town, great snow and wonderful scenery but all that changed in an instant and now the resort sits dormant waiting for someone to rescue the situation.
Bovec is a thriving water sports centre in the summer months with enthusiasts travelling from all over the continent to raft and kayak on the stunning blue waters of the Soča River. The Julian Alps form a beautiful backdrop to the small town and provide excellent walking territory for hikers. In the winter months the Kanin cable car took skiers up to 2600 m and a further lift connected the resort to Sella Nevea on the Italian side of the mountain. Lift passes were valid for both ski areas which afforded a great combination of runs for skiers of all abilities. With lift passes far cheaper than anything in neighbouring Austria and indeed most of Europe, Bovec was the perfect choice for skiers on a budget but not anymore.
In early 2013 the cable car system failed with two cabins plunging to the ground. Thankfully there were no people in the gondolas but the incident left 370 skiers stranded at the top of the mountain and several more trapped on the cable car system requiring rescue by the emergency services. Nobody was hurt in the incident but the lift was closed and has never reopened.
An investigation found no cause for the accident beyond the windy weather conditions but the operator of the lift had been much criticised in the past for poor practice and service. A new operator is required but apparently the whole situation is plagued by bureaucracy and politics and as yet there is not sign of the system restarting for the coming season. This leaves Bovec in a very difficult position with no prospect of a winter season. Business owners will be hit financially and people are losing their jobs.
It is still possible to use Bovec as a base for a skiing holiday as both Sella Nevea and Tarvisio are only a short drive away and the accommodation in Bovec is currently much cheaper than in the other resorts. If you don’t mind a bit of a drive in the morning it is still a good way of saving money and the neighbouring Italian resorts are great places to ski, particularly for beginners.
The impact on Bovec was very apparent when I visited in March. The town was virtually deserted every day. There was none of the usual lively ski resort atmosphere, no people enjoying the bars and restaurants and no kids playing in the streets in their snow gear. All I saw was empty streets and the occasional local cleaning the snow off their car. Something needs to be done and the people of Bovec are getting extremely upset. This was a great resort with plenty to offer the winter visitor but now it is like a ghost town until the spring arrives and the hikers return.
Article by Sally Stacey