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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » December 2, 2009
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Remember You Represent Poland
December 2, 2009   
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Katarzyna Sobierajska, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Sport and Tourism, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

What should a tourist know about Poland? We often hear that foreign visitors are pleasantly surprised by what they find here.
Yes, that's true. It just shows that knowledge about our country is incomplete. The positive aspects are that the initial contact that foreign tourists have with Poland is always positive, which is an excellent foundation on which to build.

At the Ministry of Sport and Tourism, we are endeavoring to reach people with information about what this country has to offer, especially our unique attributes, which cannot be found in other European countries, such as attractions listed by UNESCO.

Our cities are interesting, not necessarily only in terms of heritage buildings and monuments, but more importantly because of their unique atmosphere, the type of cultural events that are organized there, including huge outdoor concerts and shows. So we do not only want to provide dry information about historical monuments; we want to emphasize the atmosphere of our cities which we know tourists really enjoy.

Also, we want to promote Poland more to young people, to whom Poland has to offer exciting attractions in active tourism, such as kite and wind surfing.

What difference will Euro 2012 soccer championships make in Poland?
Euro 2012 gives a sort of value added in the form of a driving force to do many things, including building up the infrastructure, which is very important for tourism. If we have better roads then access to the attractions throughout the country will be easier and that will attract more visitors.

Secondly, it will provide a change in the way Poland is perceived throughout the world. Because this tells the world that we as a country are ready and able to undertake such large initiatives as the championships and I am certain that we will show that we can do that very well.

That is a positive signal also to business congress tourism generally. If we demonstrate that we can mount an event for several million people, then a congress for say 5,000 is obviously a piece of cake.

Will there be an education program for the locals on how to help tourists when they get here for Euro 2012?
Yes, this falls under the social community program. We have to make people aware that we are our country's representatives, that it is our responsibility to build up the best possible image of our country; it is the people who create the atmosphere that others remember and want to return to, irrespective of the basic elements such as the great cultural and heritage places they visit.

Together with PL2012 company, we are preparing a broad promotional program, of which a large portion will involve promotion inside Poland.

We want to make our residents aware of the event's importance, point out to them that it is they who will be in the first line of contact and that they have an important role to play here, and in a positive way show how best we all could represent our country, not only during the championships.

Are there countries where you will be focusing promotional efforts most?
In order to have accurate data, the Polish Tourist Organization (PTO), under the direction of the Ministry of Sport and Tourism, prepared the first marketing strategy for the promotion of Poland until 2015. It is a supplementary document to a strategic government document covering the same time frame. That marketing strategy provides information on priority markets, target audiences, and refers to specific time frames and specific tourist products. So for example, we know that Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy will be priority markets particularly for Euro 2012. The strategy also points to other markets important to the development of tourism such as Ukraine, the Russian Federation and next year, during Chopin Year, China and Japan must be included here. So we diversify the plan depending on the products, target audience, the region, and so on. The document is not only a guide for PTO activities, but also a useful road map for regional and local governments in their tourist promotional and marketing plans.
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