Ski resorts hope to visit during the summer

Government aid to the state-owned company from Kolašin of 200.000 euros may last until May. Due to the lack of snow, the income during the winter was minimal, the company is developing an offer for visitors during the coming months

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No skiing days this year: "Kolašin 1600" (February-March), Photo: Dragana Šćepanović
No skiing days this year: "Kolašin 1600" (February-March), Photo: Dragana Šćepanović
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

The state enterprise "Skijališta Crne Gore", which according to official government data has 97 employees, does not have a clear answer to the question of how it will pay workers' salaries and settle other obligations from the beginning of May.

The company's main income comes from the winter tourist season, and since this year's failed, the Government decided to provide them with 200.000 euros to pay their employees in March, April and part of May. For three months, about 252.000 euros are needed for this purpose, but the Government had to comply with the Law on State Aid, which is why it allocated 200.000, which is the legal limit for non-refundable aid of small value.

"Ski resorts generate their main income during the winter tourist season, the summer season brings in an average of 15 percent of the total annual income. From season to season, these revenues increase and the Kolašin 1600 ski center becomes more and more popular with mountain lovers. Although we are talking about a mountain and an altitude of over 1.500 meters, we again depend on the weather. It is up to us to ensure that our content is at full capacity. In anticipation of good weather, we hope for as many visitors as possible due to our rich offer of summer attractions as well as cultural and sports events", said the state company "Vijesta".

Although the winter tourist season in Montenegro usually starts at the end of December, there were no skiing days. Thus, after the payment of February salaries, due to lack of income, "Ski resorts" could not provide earnings and pay obligations. This company applied to the Government for financial assistance at the beginning of March, and in the middle of that month, an aid of 200 thousand euros was approved from the budget, which the Ministry of Finance will redirect to the Department of Tourism, Ecology, Sustainable Development and Development of the North, after which it will be paid into the account of the "Ski Resort ".

"Skijališta" clarified that they achieved about 5,3 percent of the planned sale of ski passes, that is, according to the financial plan for 2024, they intended to sell about 880 thousand euros of tickets, but only 46,47 thousand were sold. This state-owned company was founded in 2017 and manages the ski resorts "Kolašin 1600", "Cmiljača", "Žarski", "Torine2", "Jelovica" and the mountain center "Komovi".

"The planned income from the hospitality industry provided for in the plan is 450.000 euros, and the income achieved so far is 51.537 euros, which represents the realization of the plan of 11,45 percent. There is no income from parking fees, and income from renting business inventory and equipment (rental of ski equipment) is minimal. Out of the planned 150.000 euros, 8.000 euros were realized, which represents an achievement of 5,3 percent", they said from this company, as well as that changes to the plan and program for this year will be made after the adoption of the report for the winter season 2023/2024.

They emphasized that in addition to salaries, they also have obligations to pay for electricity, telecommunications, utilities, lease of office space, obligations to suppliers...

According to the Government's information on aid to "Skijalisti", at the end of February, there were 74 employees in that company under employment contracts and 21 workers employed through an agency, as well as two under a work contract. In the same document, it is pointed out that this company has not been a beneficiary of state aid in the last three years, except for subsidies under the Agreement on the implementation of a training program for independent work at the employer with the award of small-value aid, which is given by the Employment Agency. It also says that during this season, skiing was not possible at the ski center "Kolašin 1600", but only services for panoramic rides for guests, tubing trails and the restaurant "Troglav", so the company did not realize the financial plan for 2024, it does not have finances. for further business, he cannot regularly settle obligations to suppliers, pay salaries, debts to local self-government, other monthly fixed costs...

"It is necessary to provide funds in the amount of 200.000 euros in the form of non-returnable financial aid, and within the framework of de minimis aid, in order to enable the company "Skijališta" to make the payment in the conditions of an extremely bad winter tourist season, due to the lack of snow of regular personal income for March and April and partly for the month of May, considering that at the moment the allowed limit is 200.000 euros. The total amount required for the next three months for personal income and related taxes and contributions amounts to 252.215,64 euros," the information reads.

The lack of snow disrupted the business of companies in the north last year as well, when the ski season opened on January 21. "Skijališta" stated that they ended the year 2023 with a profit, and the director of this company Djuro Milošević previously told "Vijesta" that they had a surplus of around 50 euros.

This company has now stated that the exact data will be known after the adoption of the financial report, but that they still cannot be financed from their own funds, so the result at the end of 2023 is largely due to the state aid from 2021.

Precipitation less and less

According to the National Strategy for Climate Change from 2015, climate change is the biggest obstacle to the development of winter tourism in Montenegro.

Through the decision to develop ski resorts with slopes below 1.800 meters above sea level, the state ignored this strategy. According to the document, snowfall will decrease by 2030 percent by 25, and by 50 percent after that.

This strategy proposes moving ski slopes to altitudes above 1.800 meters and investing in artificial snow systems.

"The planned income from catering is 450.000 euros, and the income achieved so far is 51.537 euros. There is no income from parking fees, and the income from leasing business inventory and equipment (rental of ski equipment) is minimal. Out of the planned 150.000 euros, 8.000 euros have been realized." , the company said.

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