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The Warsaw Voice » Other » October 28, 2009
Western Mazuria Region
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Tourist Treasures
October 28, 2009   
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Włodzimierz Brodiuk, the starosta (head of administration) of Ostróda County, talks to Barbara Deręgowska about the county's development prospects.

WŁodzimierz MichaŁ Brodiuk, M.Sc. Eng., 55, graduated from the Agricultural Technology Academy of Olsztyn in 1984; he has a wife, Eulalia, and two children: Aleksandra, a high-school student, and Adrian, an engineer, a graduate of the Wrocław University of Technology.

A private entrepreneur, former co-owner of Brod-Wol multi-business company (1989-1991), then Brod-Mar multi-business company (1991-1992), from 1992 to 2007 he ran the Serwis-Biuro trade and service company with his wife. Ostróda town councilor for three terms 1994-2006. As of 2006, Ostróda county councilor and starosta (head of administration). In the 2008 competition for the Best Local Government Member of the Region, he was voted best starosta in Warmia-Mazuria province.

What makes Ostróda County unique in Western Mazuria?
Ostróda County is the perfect place for a vacation. Its three unquestioned assets are our three treasures. The first of these is the Ostróda-Elbl±g Canal, one of the Seven Wonders of Poland. It is the world's only operational canal with a system of ramps and sluices that allows vessels to travel over terrain where the difference in elevation is about 100 m. Anyone who hasn't navigated this unique canal should take the opportunity to discover that ships can also "sail on grass." The canal also has additional waterways, for example between Ostróda and Stare Jabłonki. This is a very special section of the waterway because over 50 m leads through a tunnel, under the ground. The John Paul II Waterway from Ostróda to Iława is another major connection. It is unusual because to obtain the required water level in the canal, a weir had to be built along Lake Karnickie and the canal was dug through that. To preserve the lake's ecosystem, there are special culverts at the bottom of the weir to let the water pass through freely. This route leads to one of Poland's biggest lakes, Lake Jeziorak.

Our second "treasure" is the Dylewo Hills Scenic Park. Our region is known as the Land of a Thousand Lakes, although in fact there are more than 3,000. Meanwhile, not everyone knows that the region is also good for skiing. No, this is not a joke: tourists have dubbed the Dylewo Hills, of which the tallest hill, Dylewska Góra, is 312 m above seal level, the Mazurian Bieszczady Mountains.

Our third tourist treasure are the famous Grunwald Fields. This is where one of the greatest medieval battles, between Polish knights and the Teutonic Order, took place on July 15, 1410. Every year on the anniversary of the Grunwald victory, a re-enactment of the battle takes place with several thousand "knights" taking part. Visitors from all over Europe come to watch this extraordinary spectacle. The re-enactment in 2009 drew about 100,000 visitors. We are already preparing for the 600th jubilee of the Battle of Grunwald in 2010.

Our region has a rich history and many historic sites are to be found here, including beautiful old palaces and manor houses. Many of them have been restored to their former glory and are used as tourist facilities.

What kind of investment projects are there in your area, and what kind of investors are you seeking at present?
For many years Ostróda County has been an attractive region for projects related to tourism. Western Mazuria has unpolluted air, luscious greenery and diverse wildlife, clean lakes and forests. An ultramodern hotel complex, the Dr. Irena Eris Hotel Spa, stands in the region of the Dylewo Hills, and small boarding houses and agritourism farms are springing up around it.

Ostróda, the county capital, is the only town in Warmia-Mazuria province that stands a chance of being an accommodation center for the Euro 2012 soccer tournament. Efforts are under way to build hotels meeting UEFA standards in Ostróda, and two have already been completed. The only barrier right now is the distance between the airport and our town, but if the S7 expressway is built in time, the trip to catch a plane will be much shorter. Investments made by the municipal government and private businesses involve tourist infrastructure: an aquapark, a waterski tow line, a kayak course, a new beach and the already mentioned hotels.

Tourists also need good roads. The construction of the S7 Warsaw-Gdańsk expressway is due to end by 2012, and the Ostróda County government has adopted a strategy for renovating local roads. Over the past three years we have renovated a large part of the county's roads, with the help of European Union funds, the national road expansion program and the county budget.

What are the prospects for developing incoming tourism in Ostróda County?
The attractiveness of any destination depends mainly on the tourist products it offers, and of course infrastructure. Ostróda County meets these criteria 100 percent. Every tourist can find something to interest them here. Apart from unique places for sailing, angling, mushroom picking, spending time on the beach, hiking in the forest, there are cultural events organized by local government authorities and businesses in the county. The Ostróda Reggae Festival is the biggest reggae music event in this part of Europe. We also have a Dance Music Festival and a Folk Music Festival. Next year, we celebrate several major anniversaries: the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald and the 150th anniversary of the Ostróda-Elbl±g Canal, and in the near future there will be the Euro 2012 soccer championships. All this is cause for great optimism regarding the development of tourism. Tourists will reach the region via comfortable roads and will find accommodation at five- and four-star hotels as well as small hotels, boarding houses, agritourism farms and campsites.
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