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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » February 18, 2009
Destination Warsaw
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Teaming Up for Warsaw
February 18, 2009   
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Wioletta Drozdowska-Malicka, Incoming Department manager at TUI Poland, one of the biggest tourism companies in Poland, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

Why did TUI Poland join the Warsaw Destination Alliance (WDA)?
Principally because we decided to start promoting incoming tourism to Poland and of course Warsaw. And we started to look for partners with whom we could work in this field. I already knew about the WDA, and I only know good things about the organization, which works very professionally to promote Warsaw. I like the way they operate.

How do you plan to work together with the WDA?
We look forward to working with the WDA in promoting us as a leading and reliable tourist company that also specializes in incoming tourism. The WDA takes part in all the leading trade fairs in Europe, particularly specializing in business tourism, so we plan to be a part of those events.

On the other hand, we would like to support the WDA in its activities and initiatives directed at promoting Warsaw, because Warsaw is an amazing place, though not yet fully appreciated, and the WDA is working on this. A lot of foreign businessmen as well as tourists come to Warsaw for many reasons. The country's biggest international airport is here, and Warsaw is a hub for other destinations. But we would like these visitors to stay longer in the capital, because the city has lots to offer.

How does TUI Poland plan to promote Warsaw?
We plan to develop programs that will be different from those offered by our competition. We want to highlight things that others either take for granted or fail to notice. For example, we want to concentrate on creating a Chopin Route in Warsaw. Apart from the town of Żelazowa Wola not far from Warsaw, where Chopin was born, Warsaw is the biggest center where there are many places associated with the great composer, but not many people know about them and they are poorly promoted. We hope that many places and events associated with Chopin will come to the surface next year, which will mark the 200th anniversary of Chopin's birth.

Warsaw has already started to promote itself as a place for shopping, and we want to piggy-back on that and focus on this aspect. We are also thinking of promoting short trips to Warsaw that will include a bit of sightseeing, a bit of shopping and clubbing, and also wellness and spa treatments. And these services here are cheaper than in the West. We want to work with companies such as the Dior Institute and Frank Provost. So if a group of friends makes a weekend trip to Warsaw, they can go and be pampered on Saturday afternoon and relax in a day spa, and also have their hair done there, and then "go on the town" at night, whether to dinner, a concert, the opera, or clubbing. We have several ideas, but of course at this stage we don't want to give too much away.

What do you predict for tourism at this time of a global economic slowdown? How will tourism suffer?
Many gurus are working on these predictions and nobody really knows. But we see our opportunity in foreigners coming here-paradoxically due to the zloty getting weaker. Last year, a strong zloty was a disincentive for foreigners wanting to travel to Poland; as a consequence numbers fell. Now we have the reverse situation, where the zloty has lost ground against the euro, and so the prices are very attractive when converted into euros. Services in Poland are of a high standard, comparable with that in the West, and yet the prices are lower. The economic crisis and the anticipated lowering of living standards, as well as the depreciating zloty, will discourage locals from traveling abroad, so hopefully they will decide to vacation in Poland instead. So we see that as an opportunity as well. But let's wait and see what happens this year. No one has a crystal ball.

What kind of tourists are coming to Poland?
I would say the biggest numbers are business tourists/visitors and these are usually short trips of a couple of days. Longer stays are usually by those tourists who come here to see the beauty of our country and by families who come in summer. And there are the so-called transit visitors, who come here from Eastern Europe on their way to the West and vice versa.

TUI Poland is one of the top tourist brands in Poland and was given the title Superbrand Poland for 2007/08. What does this designation mean for TUI Poland?
It is a reward for our many years of hard work on the Polish market. We started here in 1997 and we keep growing. Our brand name has been known in Europe for a very long time and we worked to convince our Polish clients that we are a reliable and reputable company. We offer a very high standard of service and we guarantee everything we promise. Our strength lies in the fact that we make sure that our clients are happy throughout their trip, and any issues they might have are dealt with on the spot, not merely after they return home.
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