TMR has introduced a development plan regarding the southern side of Mt Chopok – new investments respond to the increasing number of clients and missing infrastructure
Tourism is Slovakia is blooming. The number of tourists is rising, Slovaks prefer relaxation in their home country more often, and they mostly choose the mountains to relax by being active. The trend is confirmed also by the sales figures of accommodation providers whose year-on-year growth rate has increased* by almost 17%. The rising number of tourists and a missing infrastructure made the biggest subject in the field of tourism in Slovakia – Tatry mountain resorts, a.s. (TMR) react. The company has introduced a long-term development intention regarding the resort of Chopok – Juh (South).
Plans of the TMR company respond to the increasing demand for services in the field of tourism which is the result of introducing recreational vouchers but also a growing interest of the public in active relaxation and healthy lifestyle. Domestic destinations are very popular. According to one of recent surveys, 81% of Slovaks prefer winter holidays in Slovakia and Jasná is the most visited resort. Despite this fact, no new cableways and ski pistes have been built there for the past 5 years. “And we know that there won´t be any sooner than in 3 years as it takes too long to get all permissions required. If we don´t do anything, the onslaught of clients and the traffic chaos will be too much to handle, and people will be right to be angry. Although the zonation problem in the region is still unsolved, we want to prevent the potential problems. That is the reason why we are coming with specific suggestions,” explained Bohuš Hlavatý, the TMR managing director and chairman of the board. A set of proposed projects titled “Jasná, section Chopok – Juh, improving the quality of tourism services” is being submitted for environment impact assessment (EIA).
The amount of investments covering all suggested activities is estimated to be as high as EUR 50 million. “We want to invest the money to improve the quality of tourism while respecting the region at the same time. By doing so, we could create about 200 direct jobs that would generate more in future. Jasná has helped Liptov bloom and become the most progressively developing region in Slovakia in recent years. Now Horehronie could experience the same. Today, we need to support the overall world trend, i.e. the combination of ski-in/ski-out accommodation and skiing on wider, comfortable and easy ski pistes. The southern side of Mt Chopok and the whole region of Horehronie have strong development potential. We know that if we don´t use it, if we don´t respond to the increasing numbers of tourists and don´t offer better quality products to clients, they won´t come back next time. And nobody wants that. It would be very bad news not only for us but for the whole region too,” added Bohuš Hlavatý.
The planned activities include building of two new blue ski pistes with snow-making systems – Srdiečko-Krúpová and Jelenia lúka-Krúpová, prolonging the piste of Vyhliadková from the Veľký Príslop saddle and widening of the narrowest section of the Slnečná piste. “The width of ski pistes is crucial, this is where no more compromises can be made. We have to remove dangerous narrow parts where the risk of collisions is higher,” explained Matej Hulej, the resort general manager and continued to talk about further priorities. „We would like to link the areas of Krúpová and Dereše either by one long or two shorter 6-seater chairlifts, a new reservoir should increase the snowmaking capacity so that we could make snow for the pistes as fast as possible, which seems to be extremely important for the future of skiing. In addition, we would like to change the resort entrance point of Krúpová as the container constructions there don´t look decently anymore. The new heart of the southern Chopok resort should be represented by a comfortable three-storey building with complex services,” added Matej Hulej. As for other plans in the area, the Maxiland ski school should be moved to a better locality, the car park needs to be extended, a new restaurant should be built on the piste of Jelenia lúka, the lodging house for employees has to be renewed. The long-term vision includes a new hotel – Krúpová with 260-330 beds, a zone with 30-50 chalets and service premises. New accommodation facilities in the area of Krúpová should increase the number of skiers staying in the resort, which is expected to reduce the traffic and the amount of emissions caused by cars coming on a daily basis.
The proposed projects are located in the territory of the Low Tatras National Park, in the 3rd level of nature protection. All activities have been suggested to minimise the impact on protected zones and are situated within the boundaries of the present-day resort. This means the built-up area should be as big as 0.265 km2 – 0.287 km2.. “As there is no existing zonation, i.e. there are no clear rules that would define which precious territories cannot be touched and where tourist development combined with skiing, related services and infrastructure can be performed, we will have to ask for individual permissions again. That is why we cannot say at the moment whether the projects get the green light. However, we hope that common sense will prevail and a pragmatic approach will defeat preudopopulist attitudes to nature protection because these often do more harm than help,” concluded Bohuš Hlavatý, the TMR managing director and chairman of the board.