For a local economy to succeed, it needs to embrace a wide range of opportunities. In a society where the majority of the population work during the day, a thriving nightlife gives them the chance to relax, unwind, and spend their hard-earned cash. And at a holiday resort like Bansko, where much of the tourism is seasonal, the late night entertainment can generate enough revenue to balance out the slow times.
However, the town of Bansko has just taken the controversial decision to prohibit the building of new night-time entertainment. There are currently 20 such establishments in the area and the local government feel that these are adequate to cater to the needs to the tourists. They have also placed an embargo on the building of more hotels for the same reason. While this might seem like good news for the bars and clubs already operating – a lack of competition should protect their profits – growth is often necessary to keep up with an expanding customer base: ensuring that the supply meets the demand.
So for a town that relies heavily on rapidly-growing tourism for its economy, this might seem like a catastrophic decision. Last season, Bankso saw a 15% increase in the number of visitors compared to the previous year. During the day, the ski lifts and drags which serve the many slopes are used by upwards of 25,000 people every hour. But when they close, the tourists remain, which is where the nightlife takes over. Bars and clubs of all colours have sprung up in the hotels, as well as in the town centre. There are casual places to lounge around with friends, enjoying a drink après-ski, and neon palaces to dance into the early hours, accompanied by thudding beats and flashing lights.
However Bansko’s nightlife has come under fire recently, for the kind of entertainment offered, and the types of people it is beginning to attract. For a long time, the resorts have been favourites for families seeking a place to relax together, and there have been suggestions that they will be put off coming to somewhere garnering a reputation for drunken, all-night parties. Understandably difficult to cater to two such diametrically opposed groups, those in charge have been forced to make a difficult choice. However their decision will have been aided in part by the fact that Bansko is not just a holiday resort: The town is also home to nearly 13,000 permanent residents and the town’s mayor, Georgi Ikonomov, is keen to stress that his verdict to limit development is key in ensuring peace and quiet for them.