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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » February 4, 2010
Destination Warsaw
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Grabbing World Attention With Chopin
February 4, 2010   
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Alex Kloszewski, chairman and managing director of the Warsaw Destination Alliance, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

How is the WDA using the Year of Chopin to promote Warsaw?
Together with LOT Polish Airlines, and the Chopin 2010 organization, the WDA is fine-tuning a special program called Chopin Romantic Weekends that will kick off on April 1.

Room nights will be sold for weekends incorporating the Chopin experience, such as concerts, plays, exhibitions and excursions to places associated with the composer; guests will have products with the Chopin theme, for example Batida is making a special "Chopin" chocolate for the celebrations that we hope will remain on the market forever. There will be a Chopin drink and cocktail competition, both alcoholic and a non-alcoholic version for children. And of course there will be many other Chopin related events.

The WDA is cooperating with Chopin 2010 on various projects, but we have one huge event which will rock Warsaw and the world. We dreamed it up three years ago. It will take place at the end of August on Pi³sudski Square in Warsaw. It is a spectacular three-day concert to be played simultaneously on 200 grand pianos by Chinese children and conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki. The location is symbolic, because Chopin lived in that area for a few years. We will have Calisia pianos specially manufactured for this event.

The Calisia piano manufacturing company was established in 1848 in Poland, but went bankrupt four years ago. The WDA is resuscitating this brand to manufacture the pianos in Beijing and bringing them to Warsaw for this concert. This will be an amazing mega-event that will focus world attention on Warsaw, and of course there will be significant sponsorship opportunities not to be missed. Final negotiations for this event are still continuing and we sincerely hope that this event will go ahead.

As a side line, we want to make this a Polish-Chinese cultural event and sell our special weekend packages to Chinese visitors.

Other than promotions associated with the Year of Chopin, what other events and projects has the WDA planned for 2010?
We will keep lobbying the government to build a conference center next to the National Stadium. This will be our fifth year of WDA lobbying and I am optimistic that we are getting close to an agreement. Our aim is to have the center built by 2016.

Hotels want to get together and do an enhancement program around the culinary arts that will promote and encourage the use of high quality culinary products. Regrettably Warsaw is not perceived as a culinary destination, and yet we have such delicious food and quality food products that we should capitalize on that. The program will embrace hotels and also independent restaurants.

As we speak, the Warsaw Tourist Association (WOT) is being created by the City of Warsaw and should start operating in early March. The WDA had been working for three years for this to happen. It will be an organization with 300-400 members. The WDA will be a founding member and we will have a place on the board.

We will continue to work on attracting the MICE (Meetings Incentives Conferences Exhibitions) segment to the capital. All our hotels are keen to promote Warsaw as a meeting place. Even though we don't have such venues as those in Spain or Vienna, Warsaw is attractive for smaller meetings and conferences of up to 1,500 people.

We will continue to focus on the Warsaw-CEE Financial Hub conference that for the last three years we have organized together with The Warsaw Voice, and to support the Multifest, the register of Warsaw events on the internet.

The WDA will maintain its cooperation with the Euro 2012 organizers, to ensure that at the end of the soccer championships we will have a two-to-three year growth in tourism from that.

Additionally, we are working on establishing a WDA presence on Facebook.

How many members does WDA have and who can become a member?
Currently, we have 86 members. There are various levels in the new membership program with lots of benefits for members.

We want to underline that it is not just the WDA's duty or responsibility to promote Warsaw, but that of everyone who lives in this city. When we promote Warsaw at home and abroad, every person who lives in this city benefits, through increased revenue, taxes and investment.
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