By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Authorities in Macedonia’s landmark holiday resort, the lake town of Ohrid, hope the city will be sold out for New Year’s Eve, though some remain sceptical.
City officials expect some 30,000 tourists, mainly from neighbouring countries, to swarm the town for the New Year events, a figure that would fill capacities completely.
“The efforts to promote Ohrid as a year round tourist center that will stay open beyond the summer season are bearing fruit. We expect a full city for this New Year,” the spokesperson for Ohrid Municipality, Simon Ilievski, told Balkan Insight.
The municipality will stage a central celebration at the town square for New Year’s Eve, with a lengthy fireworks show over the lake but without any regional or international stars on the stage.
Filip Mishevski, the manager of hotel Metropol, one of the largest in Ohrid, is also optimistic.
“We have reservations from Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro and other countries and we hope to fill the capacity of our hotel almost completely,” he told Balkan Insight.
New Year’s Eve prices in restaurants in the centre of the city range from 20 to 50 euros. Two to three day accomodation at the area’s hotels go from 110 to 160 euros, and those staying in private accommodation will pay from 10 to 30 euros per day.
But some in the tourist industry are sceptical about the forecasts and say the municipal estimates are exaggerated.
“The hotels will be filled to a maximum 70 per cent of capacity, the same as last year, and interest in private accommodation is very low,” insists Danco Tanevski, the head of the Hotel Association of Macedonia, HOTAM.
Tanevski explained that some of the hotels are still not set up to properly welcome guests during the cold winter months and that some remain closed.
Ohrid is home to some 7,000 hotel beds and about 20,000 beds in private accommodation, HOTAM has calculated.
Over the past summer, local media reported that Ohrid has begun to lose some of its most numerous guests, the Serbians. The reported drop came after the killing of a Serbian tourist in a night club brawl in August 2010.
Ohrid and its surroundings are by far Macedonia’s biggest tourist hot spot.
Ohrid Lake is one of the largest in the Balkans. Located between Macedonia and Albania, it is the deepest freshwater system in the Balkans with a maximum depth of 300 metres. It is home to many endemic species.
Along with its natural beauty, what makes Ohrid special for many tourists is its rich cultural heritage. The town is full of old churches, picturesque houses and monuments.
Ohrid is one of only 28 sites across the world that have been named a UNESCO World Heritage site in both the culture and nature categories.