Importantly, Smolyan is 10km from Pamporovo, Bulgaria’s second largest ski resort (40Km of piste). Annually 350,000 people visit the wider area, 70 per cent of whom go direct to ski at Pamporovo. Outside of the ski season there are other tourism opportunities such as caving, hiking, rock climbing, wildlife and spas.
Alongside tourism, the economy is based on mining, timber and machine industries and livestock.
The main crop is potatoes (about 30% of the national production). There is also a polymer moulding industry producing parts for the automotive industry. Unemployment is around 10 percent with an older demography and many young people leaving for opportunities elsewhere. The city is also host to two university campuses – branches of Plovdiv University and Varna Free University.