Slovenia’s Ministry of Economic Development and Technology has confirmed the granting of close to €6 million to the frontier resort of Bovec, to assist in the reconstruction of its ailing Kanin ski lift. Serving the eponymous mountain that straddles the Slovene-Italian border, this important part of Bovec’s tourism infrastructure has lain dormant since a near-catastrophic event in 2013 that immediately suspended operations of the device and ultimately drove former presiding company ATC Kanin into bankruptcy.

Mystery and indeed conjecture still surrounds the circumstances that brought down several of the gondola’s carriages, all of which were mercifully empty. Had they been occupied criminal damages arising from a probable indictment of manslaughter would have left ATC Kanin owing many millions more than it eventually became burdened with, the continued failure of auctions to liquidate ATC’s assets to in some way service its liabilities resulted in Bovec’s Municipality ‘acquiring’ the cableway apparatus and mountaintop Prestreljenik restaurant in affect for free, although a surety of €170,000 to cover the Official Receiver’s costs and the formal transfer of assets into public ownership was paid by the local authority.

Unlike circumstances that often arise in other Slovenian ski resorts where a lack of snow can hamper the smooth, continued running of a winter season Bovec’s ability to offer the highest altitude skiing in the country has rarely suffered from a paucity of snow. Indeed, since the demise of the former Kanin lift much of the associated infrastructure has been terminally damaged by large amounts of snowfall that’s been left unmanaged and pistes, that would otherwise have been groomed remained untouched except by intrepid skiers venturing down the Slovenian side of Kanin from the Italian resort of Sella Nevea. It isn’t therefore only the device itself that requires complete remediation: several of the support pylons are in a dangerous condition from years of neglect that have seen no routine maintenance. A tender document pertaining to the requisite work required to bring the lift back into service solicited only one response when publically advertised, with negotiations ongoing with the as of yet unnamed interested party. It is nevertheless envisaged that winter sports will recommence in December, presumably a condition of the forthcoming state aid.

It has though come as a surprise to me on learning of the modest impact the closed Kanin lift has had on Bovec’s annual income, the ski industry accounting for only 13% of the town’s earnings. Such figures will only add fuel to the argument that by gaining the state’s financial favour Bovec is receiving an unfair advantage over other struggling ski resorts whose reliance on income earned during the winter season equates to a much larger percentage of their annual takings. The summer season does though draw a large amount of patronage from thrill seeking visitors keen to take advantage of the rugged nature of Slovenia’s northwest, a landscape that offers many opportunities to indulge in hydrospeed, canyoning and whitewater rafting. On my last visit to Bovec the former Kanin lift was only open a couple of days a week which at the time seemed surprising, considering the hiking and multi-day hut to hut trekking possibilities. A loss of €8 million to the town’s economy has though been estimated since its cableway ground to a halt, a significant figure regardless of when and how the local area brings in tourism euros(€). The renovation of the Kanin lift should therefore complete Bovec as a multi-faceted destination rather than display a hitherto thought reliance on placing all its eggs in one basket. Whilst a fully functioning cableway is important to the resort’s economy, its recent dormancy hasn’t after all become the make or break factor in the town’s fortunes that was previously thought.

Further reading on this matter can be viewed at:

24ur: Bovec to receive Ministry finance to repair Kanin cableway