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Long Term Golf View

A recent commentary this week highlights the potential in Bulgaria for long term golfing tourism and golf property opportunities in the country. Many a person who does not practice the sport has said that golf is no more than a decent walk ruined, yet the truth remains that it is one of Europe's and indeed Bulgaria's fastest growing sports and property investment markets.

Golf course properties in Bulgaria offer a potentially significant capital gain together with good rental opportunities, particularly as Bulgaria is an undiscovered golfing destination. Property purchasers feel comfortable that their view cannot be spoiled by further development and rest secure in the knowledge that there are millions of rental holidaymakers all over the world who may take advantage of the opportunity to play several Bulgarian courses close together during their vacation.

Mark Thomas of HRG Worldwide Bulgaria says, "According to KPMG by 2020 there will be 7 million golfers in Europe and 3000 new golf courses will be required to satisfy the demand from golfers. Currently it is stated that a new golf course opens every day across Europe.

Despite some spurious claims about how many golf projects there are around the country; take your pick between 10 - 20 - the more serious golf projects are slowly but surely edging towards completion and when they do reach such a stage, they will add not only a playground for keen and overly keen golfers but also a valuable ingredient into the countries tourism and property mix.

They will also enhance no end the country's image as well as hopefully providing, through indirect channels, valuable GDP to Bulgaria and a potential source of income to the areas adjacent to golf courses. Revenue that it is hoped comes along not just in the blitz that revolves around the peak ski/beach season but, rather in a consistent stream all year long, in times when tourism revenue is otherwise stagnant.

Aside the Sofia golf course(s) that are neither designed nor meant for tourist consumption, the first of the Black Sea courses are already largely operational from the golf side of things and will be totally finished from an infrastructure point of view during 2009.

These are the 'Blacksearama' and 'The Lighthouse' courses and they will provide a new tourism backbone in the Balchik / Northern Black Sea region.

These two courses will be joined shortly afterwards by the Thracian Cliffs facility which will become the flagship of the region.

The three courses clustered together should provide a valid golfing option for those in search of a new golfing experience. The only question mark that seems to nag in the back of ones mind is a logistics question: How will visitors get there outside of the peak season? Golf breaks are less popular in July and August than they are say in May and October, which are the months when airlines have been winding up and winding down their summer operations to Varna/Bourgas. The getting to and from the Black Sea area is maybe an aspect overlooked in the bigger scheme of things.

The other Bulgarian golfing area is shaping up to be Bansko. Longer term there is talk of five courses. Currently the first of the new courses in Bansko is partly operational with nine holes playable with further expansion to eighteen holes ready early 2009. This first facility is also designed to have a further eighteen holes making it a thirty six hole complex. Golfers who have played the course rate it very highly and again it will provide a tourism resource beyond the winter ski season; when it's too cold to golf anyway.

Even if one-quarter of the suggested new Bulgarian golf courses ever see the daylight that will be remarkable. The good news though is that already investors have put their money where their mouth is and got the (golf) ball rolling.

Bulgaria is almost on the golf map and this is not just for the benefit of those who like to bash a ball around 6km of parkland every week, it is also to the enormous benefit of the tourism stock of the country.. and possibly the GDP."

Mark Thomas
HRG Worldwide Bulgaria - specialist travel and tourism agency

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