EBRD and EU support hotel on Lake Ohrid

By Volker Ahlemeyer

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Inex Olgica hotel invests in energy efficiency to preserve environment

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site with stunning landscapes and a unique biodiversity, Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia has all the ingredients it takes for tourists to enjoy a wonderful holiday.

This is something that residents know all too well. “My family has lived here in Ohrid for generations,” explains Andrea Iloski Simonoska, general manager of the Inex Olgica hotel. “It’s an amazing place. I start every day with a morning workout in the gym or with my new passion boxing and then move on to my daily work responsibilities in the hotel. The end of the day is reserved for family time.”

Lake Ohrid is the number one tourist spot in the country, and for good reason. The list of leisure activities on offer is a long one: swimming, sailing, kayaking, wake boarding, nature exploration and photography, hiking, biking, astrotourism, paragliding, culinary delights and much more.

It comes as no surprise that more than 200,000 tourists visit the lake each year. It is therefore all the more important to ensure that this unique environment stays the way it is, Andrea explains.

“What you give is what you get. We have a responsibility to preserve this unique environment – for those who live here, the tourists and all the animals and plants. We help to preserve the environment and win the goodwill of our guests. Sustainability is essential in the business world to achieve growth and satisfy your customers.”

EBRD and EU help Hotel Inex Olgica become greener and more competitive

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A greener hotel

The hotel installed solar panels on its roof several years ago but there were further improvements that could be made to ensure that the hotel had a minimal impact on the environment.

So they invested in measures to make the building more energy efficient; they replaced all external windows and doors, improved the insulation of outer walls, rebuilt the roof and installed a new heating and cooling system with heat pumps.

To do all this Inex Olgica obtained a loan of €379,000 from one of the EBRD’s local partner banks, Sparkasse Bank Makedonija. It is part of a common programme with the European Union to support small and medium-sized businesses in the country, for which the EU provides funds to help companies choose the most suitable equipment and technologies. There are also incentive payments once a project is successfully completed.

“It has been a major change that has helped us save energy and costs,” explains Andrea. The hotel is expecting to reduce heating and cooling costs by more than 53 per cent. Its changes are both in line with national energy efficiency laws and EBRD Gold standard.

A bright and sustainable future

Lake Ohrid is a destination that enjoys increasing popularity. While more than half of all visitors used to be domestic tourists about a year ago, the number of international visitors is now on the rise.

Numbers almost tripled compared with last year and tourists from abroad now account for 63 per cent of all visitors. In June 2022, 16.7 per cent came from Serbia, 14 per cent from Turkey, 7.2 per cent from Poland, 5 per cent from Germany and around 4 per cent from Greece.

“We can clearly see that people are now more excited than ever about travelling and there is a noticeable increase in international visitors. We are proud to show and share our region with them in a sustainable way. Our hotel can effectively reduce energy use without compromising the high quality of our services for our guests, while also benefiting from cost savings.”

And this is where the hotel’s improvements come in, Andrea concludes. “It’s an investment in the future – both for us at the hotel and for Lake Ohrid.”

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