The prospect of winter-sports resuming on the Slovenian side of Mount Kanin this week moved a step closer, with news of Bovec Municipality formally signing a transfer of assets contract, the local authority in effect taking control of the circular cableway and restaurant on the mountain’s summit. The fulfillment of contractual obligations has automatically triggered the requisite criteria for €3 million of state funding to be obtained from the Ministries of Economy and Finance, only then will the recommencement of skiing in Bovec become a reality once essential works to the lift infrastructure has been completed. Obstacles do though remain.
Mindful of falling foul of state aid being illegally procured – much in the way Elan skis are now battling with the European Commission regarding money granted to them via the Slovenian government – there’s also the possibility of objections being raised by other ski resorts who haven’t benefited from state assistance. There is also the unusual, perhaps unprecedented scenario where Bovec’s Municipality has acquired the circular cableway and restaurant but as of yet do not number the ski lifts or intermediate stations on the cableway themselves as part of the portfolio of assets transferred, both still forming chunks of the former operating company ATC Kanin’s bankrupt estate. Having received the cableway and restaurant through the execution of Slovenian law allowing distressed assets that have failed to sell at auction to become municipal property, wrangling over the future of the lifts and cableway stations between ATC Kanin’s creditors HIT Nova Gorica and Heta threaten to derail plans for the resumption of operations in time for the 2015/16 season. If a consensus of the dividing rights of ownership – and the subsequent proportion of income realised from any sale of these assets – cannot be reached, regular creditors can then become involved in obtaining the remaining infrastructure, free of charge. As Bovec’s municipality falls under the regular creditors category(much in the same way there are preferential and non-preferential creditors in Great Britain), it could in theory become the owner of all associated infrastructure, either ran by the local authority or a standalone company formed by it. It is in the best interests of all parties involved for a swift resolution to be found; even though we find ourselves in mid-April time is very much against Bovec having a fully functioning ski resort this forthcoming winter unless, essential maintenance begins almost immediately.
The background to how Bovec for the last three years has seen a suspension of operations on its side of Kanin centre around the mysterious grounding of several of its cable-car, thankfully unoccupied at the time. This event understandably resulted in the cessation of all activities, with accusations and counterclaims failing to establish the root cause of the accident. The former operating company remains adamant a freak spell of high winds brought down the carriages but, the Slovenian Meteorological Service has no record of such an occurrence in the northwest of the country at that particular time. Confidence has though been sufficiently eroded that a new cableway, rather than the renovation of the existing device, surely being the only way forward for Bovec to attract the number of winter-sports aficionados its status as Slovenia’s highest ski terrain warrants. Those that currently still stay in Bovec’s dwindling coterie of hotels are bussed to the Italian side of Kanin, where many of their tourist euros(€) are spent in Italy, rather than on the Slovenian side of the border.
It is interesting to note that whilst Slovenia’s incumbent administration have slated fifteen state-run institutions for denationalisation, resulting in a laissez faire approach that goes hand in hand with the shrinking of the state, it is only through the intervention of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economy that Bovec can again become the ski resort it once was. The manifold serious problems affecting extensive areas of Slovenia’s tourism sector can no longer be ignored by the state, especially by a country so reliant on the travel industry.
Additional material on this matter can be found at: RTV Slovenia news: Bovec cautiously optimistic for 2015/16 ski season