With global golf tourism worth over $10billion, Bulgaria has twelve new 18-hole courses in development or underway, with five due for completion by 2008.
According to the May issue of Quest Bulgaria, the country’s leading English language magazine for Bulgaria and Bulgarian property, real estate developers have woken up to the massive pulling power of top quality courses.
“Five signature courses – from the likes of Ian Woosnam, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player – are planned,” says Chris Goodall, md of Quest Bulgaria. “Developers here have recognised that by setting a course in an excellent location and combining it with additional quality attractions such as spas, wellness centres, horse riding, tennis and so on, gives year-round appeal. Golf is offering buyers the opportunity to buy top real estate not linked specifically to sea or ski.”
Bulgaria is waking up to the attractions of a sport that has four million registered players in Europe and 50 million worldwide. Not bad considering the former communist country once treated the game with disdain, the ruling classes dismissing it as ‘bourgeois‘. But with income levels rising in Bulgaria along with more leisure time, even the locals are taking to the game.
And with the success of Spanish and Portuguese golf developments in mind and low cost airlines further spurring on future golf development, Bulgaria is set to prosper from its all-new putting greens. Of the five courses currently under construction and due to be completed by 2008, 30% of the 2,300 residential units across them have already been sold.
Many of those involved in the industry predict the chances of Bulgaria becoming an international golf destination are excellent, particularly in the light of government support for such tourism.
According to the World Tourism Organisation, by 2020 nearly every third visitor to Europe will choose a central or Eastern European destination. “And golf enthusiasts are always looking for a new golf destination and new course to play,” says Chris Goodall.
Martin Hunt, of Living Bulgaria, which specialises in golf course developments, said, “I believe that signature courses are important -the name of a world class designer has a big marketing effect and adds value to the properties on the course. Together with the Bulgarian Golf Association we are promoting the country as the up and coming golf hot spot in Europe.
“Golf properties in Bulgaria represent a really good investment as demand for golf property remains high, so resale is easier and rental potential excellent.There are few opportunities to buy on a golf course in the UK and those that exist are very expensive whereas golf course properties in Bulgaria are hardly any more than properties in other developments of a similar quality.”
Quest Bulgaria www.questbg.com