Thursday, October 28, 2021

Travel, Tourism & Hospitality


Middle East 'an important market for tourism in Poland'
December 2020 915
The newly elected President of Polish Tourism Organisation, Rafał Szlachta, says that the Middle East, especially the GCC, is an important market for tourism in Poland in an extensive, exclusive interview with TTN.
 
Here is the complete interview:
 
In the context of these challenging times, what are your immediate and short-term goals?
 
a.  What do you hope to achieve in 2021?
 
My main goal is to increase the effectiveness of Polish Tourism Organisation’s operations. In the current situation, with reality changing daily due to the pandemic, we cannot be limited by excessively complex internal regulations. I want us to adjust our actions to the new circumstances. We need to devise advanced online tools. As we speak, we are working on several solutions whose implementation will accompany the gradual reopening of tourism. The most important thing today is to compete for tourists and promptly react to lifted restrictions. Success often comes to the ones who act first, naturally as long as they boast a noteworthy promotional concept.
 
It is our intention to showcase Poland as not only an attractive destination, but also a safe one.
 
In 2021 we will certainly place emphasis on promoting active, leisure and health tourism. When planning corresponding operations we have to take into account the latest trends, such as need for safety, simultaneously manifesting in need for closeness and for isolation from the threat posed by the external world, and travellers seeking an immersive natural experience and stress relief.
 
b.  What is your motto?
 
The winners take it all.
 
2. What are the current rules and regulations for entering Poland? Is it a good time to visit?
 
Until November 29, Poland was available exclusively for business trips. Accommodation facilities do not provide services for leisure travellers. Restaurants are restricted to takeaway and delivery only. However, I hope that in December Poland’s tourism sector will slowly begin its recovery and inbound leisure travel limitations will be lifted.
 
3. Is there an update on issuance of new tourism/Schengen visas and revised visa costs?
 
Poland is in the Schengen zone since December 2007. The rules are very clear and in my opinion there is no major problem in getting a Schengen tourist visa for people whose application is compliant with the regulations. The Embassies in the Gulf region understand the importance of tourism and do not see problems with tourists from the Gulf region. We must remember that some countries in the Gulf are on a visa-free regime, as the UAE. The costs of a Schengen visa are relatively low and it should be not problem for a tourist to pay for it.
 
4. What has Poland’s response been to Covid-19 – please share a few important statistics for our readers.
 
The 2020 vacations season demonstrated that the pandemic made domestic tourism grow in importance in many countries. This is particularly true for highly attractive destinations distinguished by a major internal market and population with a considerable purchasing power. This trend can also be observed in Poland. According to a June study commissioned by Polish Tourism Organisation, more than half of all Poles were planning summer holidays this year and as many as 82 per cent of them turned to domestic travel.
 
As for the arrivals of foreign guests, our situation can be compared to that of the Czech Republic or Hungary. In January-July the number of international travellers visiting Poland dropped by 65.5 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. As a reminder, in 2019 a record-breaking number of 21 million foreign tourists visited our country.
 
5.  What is unique about Poland as a tourism destination?
 
Poland is a highly diverse country that has something for everyone. Importantly, it boasts an intriguing past and 16 sites included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Still, I believe that it is Poland’s impressive nature that will make it particularly popular in the post-Covid landscape for tourism demand. After all, we are talking about a destination that has access to the seaside and the mountains, more than 7,000 lakes and close to 60,000 tourist routes. You can visit the primeval Białowieska Forest roamed by Europe’s heaviest bison or the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine, the world’s most oft-visited mine. Poland offers unique and interactive highlights for the whole family, enabling guests to have a good time and simultaneously explore Polish tradition and history. The Living Museum of Gingerbread in Toruń, the Museum of Papermaking near Wrocław, and Bolesławiec, the Polish capital of pottery, are all great examples. Visiting guests can make their own gingerbread and pottery products or learn about and try their hand at the historical process of papermaking. These are just some of the many reasons that make our country worth visiting.
 
6.  What do travellers from the Middle East enjoy most about Poland? Kindly share the top cities/destinations and experiences.
 
Tourists from the Persian Gulf are particularly fond of Polish cities with a rich tradition, history, food offer and entertainment, such as Warsaw, Kraków, Gdańsk and Wrocław. They are also attracted to our nature and moderate climate, with Zakopane currently reigning supreme as the number one spot. Located in southern Poland, a two-hour-drive from Kraków, the relatively small town is the winter capital of the country and offers unrivalled mountain scenery in the summertime. In addition, its offer is perfectly adjusted to the needs of Gulf guests. Our goal today is to promote other equally interesting sites in Poland. For example, the Masurian Lake District is within a two-hour car drive or train ride from Warsaw and offers relaxation and tranquillity away from the capital’s hustle and bustle.
 
Not far from Kraków you will find two other sites popular among visitors from the Persian Gulf region. I am talking here about the historical “Wieliczka” Salt Mine, included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and Mt. Kasprowy Wierch, one of the highest peaks of Tatra Mts. At 1,987 metres above sea level, there is nothing extraordinary about finding it covered in snow in May. We are very pleased that Gulf tourists appreciate and enjoy highlights of this kind on Poland’s map of must-sees.
 
Moreover, the guests that have already become familiar with the Polish offer of medical tourism come back to take advantage of diagnostic tests, cardiovascular treatments, cardiac surgery, orthopaedic treatments, weight loss surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, ophthalmic and dental treatments, as well as the wide range of spa and wellness services in scenic surroundings.
 
Last but not least, it is worth stressing that Poland is a low-risk destination that is accessible via direct flights from Dubai and, most importantly, that since May 2015 UAE citizens can travel visa-free to Poland and the whole Schengen area.
 
7. Is the Middle East, especially the GCC, considered an important feeder market for Poland Tourism?
 
I believe that this is already the case today; additionally, this perception might be soon reinforced. For example, the above-mentioned Zakopane has come to appreciate GCC tourists a long time ago. Poland is still getting to know the specific character of guests hailing from the discussed market, but the quality of its offer and services continues to grow year-on-year. Tourists hailing from the Gulf countries are remarkably pleasant, peaceful and do not cause any trouble. In addition, the fact that they know how to appreciate the services of their hosts always makes them welcome.
 
Before the pandemic outbreak passengers could choose direct flights from Dubai to Warsaw and Kraków and from Beirut to Warsaw. We hope to see their number grow in the immediate future.
 
8. Kindly give us a roundup of key Mice facilities/itineraries in Poland.
 
Looking ahead at “post-coronavirus” times, the Polish Tourism Organisation – Poland Convention Bureau has launched the first edition of Poland: Online Site Inspection, a comprehensive online guide for meeting planners. It allows event organisers to interactively and individually explore the many congress, conference and event facilities Poland has to offer – from anywhere in the world and at any time.
 
As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, new regulations were introduced to prevent the disease from spreading. As a result, many organisers are announcing their plans to reschedule meetings and events to a later date. In addition, some events are undergoing rearrangement and will apply a different formula, taking advantage of available online tools.
 
Municipal and regional convention bureaux regularly monitor the situation in particular cities and regions. Supported by Poland Convention Bureau of Polish Tourism Organisation the CBs implement new solutions intended to help destinations stay relevant among foreign and Polish meeting planners.
 
Our meetings guide is an introduction to the conference and events potential of Poland. It contains information about the best and most highly recommended venues and service providers operating in Poland. In addition, we would also like to encourage all meeting planners to contact the regional and city convention bureaux – local experts who are happy to help with any MICE-related request .
 
Set in the heart of Europe, Poland has at its disposal all the assets required for the meetings sector’s intensive development and for drawing more international events of all scope. Among them mention is certainly due to state-of-the-art hotels, numerous conference and exhibition centres, unique venues, first-rate transportation infrastructure, as well as organisations and companies ready to provide professional services aimed at business meetings in all size groups.
 
Intangible goods, cultural offerings, unmatched ambience and atmosphere all constitute major high points of Polish cities like Warsaw, Kraków, Wrocław, Gdańsk, Poznań or Łódź seeking the attention of tourists, meeting organisers, and investors.
 
Click the link below to be connect with Online site inspection platform.
 
9. Will people be seeking luxury vacations in 2021?
 
The habits and customs of tourists will not evolve so quickly. Some of them, for various reasons, might change or modify their travel preferences, but there will also be a group still interested in luxury offers. Today, the demand for upscale retreats might be actually on the rise as this category stands out due to its high standard and customized character. In other words, it is a guarantee of safe leisure.
 
a. Is Poland ideal for luxury holidays?
 
Poland’s offer encompasses luxury hotels, castles and palaces, stores and boutiques. All enthusiasts of urban tourism will certainly enjoy the luxury offer of Warsaw and Gdańsk, for years running the Pomorskie Prestige project, which is highly recommended for tourists looking for a premium experience. The undertaking promotes top restaurants, medical & spa facilities, modern art galleries, boutiques, golf courses, marinas and sailing infrastructure, local products and handicraft.
 
On the other hand, if you prefer nature, Poland has magnificent castles and palaces adapted to host hotels and high-end spa & wellness venues. As a rule, they are surrounded by mountains, forests or lakes.
 
Mention is also due to the Polish offer of medical tourism. Our country features luxury private clinics providing top-level healthcare services.
 
10. How important is tourism to the economy? What percentage is domestic/international?
 
Tourism is a crucial sector for the Polish economy, as demonstrated by both its GDP contribution (exceeding 6 per cent in recent years) and generated employment opportunities (more than 700,000 jobs so far). It simulates the development of many other industries, such as construction, transport and agriculture. At the moment, we do not have detailed data showing the pandemic’s impact on tourism. Poland’s state budget has diverse revenue sources, with tourism as a significant but not main component. As a result, the Polish government manages to keep the economy stable and resilient in face of the pandemic.
 
Support for the tourism industry is essential both from the viewpoint of the interest of the entire country and of particular businesses and individuals. Compared with other sectors, the distinct character of tourism makes it relatively easy to educate future professionals, also recruited from people remaining outside the labour force for a longer period of time. - TradeArabia News Service







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