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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » December 21, 2012
Polska … tastes good!
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Rural Tourism: Far From the Madding Crowd
December 21, 2012   
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Rural tourism offers an antidote to big-city hustle and bustle and a refuge for those who love nature and who are interested in the culture and history of the countryside.

The most popular form of rural tourism in Poland is agritourism, or farm tourism, which combines tourist services with the experience of staying on a working farm. The steady pace of living on a farm, with its distinctive scents, sounds and colors, draws crowds of tourists.

Agritourist farms in Poland entice visitors with a wide range of diverse services and comfort standards. Appropriate standards are ensured by the Countryside Accommodation Classification System overseen by the “Hospitable Farms” Polish Federation of Rural Tourism. Farm owners sign up to the system on a voluntary basis. Proven accommodation quality in rural areas is awarded with special sun symbols, where three is the maximum rating.

Poland has around 8,000 agritourist farms where, other than picturesque views, tourists can find regional cuisine, a wealth of traditional and local products and all the aspects of living in the countryside. Visitors to Polish rural areas appreciate the value-for-money factor where quality products are available at low prices. The distinctive features of the Polish countryside, such as its traditional culture, natural landscapes and the hospitality for which Poland is known around the world, are something of a rarity in contemporary Europe. Tourists visiting the countryside and farms can enjoy many different attractions and pursue their hobbies and interests. Poland’s rural heritage comprises rare plant and animal species, herbs, horse riding, wine making, traditional cuisine, handicrafts and remarkable architecture and landscape. Fans of rural tourism in Poland can choose from a wide array of different forms of recreation, facilities and comprehensive services that allow them to spend their free time in an interesting way. Even though the attractions differ from region to region, tourists are welcome in villages across Poland. The most popular regions are Małopolska and Podkarpacie in southern Poland and the northeastern regions of Warmia-Mazuria and Podlasie. Each of these and other regions have their own trademark features that determine the type of rural tourist services they offer.

The Polish countryside helps visitors forget their problems, relish the peace and quiet and find out more about Polish culture. Those visiting the countryside can embark on a trip to the past and revisit the times when Polish noblemen built their residences in the countryside to enjoy the natural beauty around them.

Local and traditional products are sold in Poland through a network of individual businesses, local and regional tourist organizations, Local Action Groups (LGDs) and agricultural consulting agencies. All of those use a set of promotional tools from advertising to PR campaigns, but in this age of digital technology, the internet is the main source of information on rural tourism and its products. Many agritourist farms and related businesses run their own websites and also use popular social networking sites. The most comprehensive rural tourism website, complete with recommendations for farms across Poland, is available at www.agroturystyka.pl

Advertisements and information on rural tourism in Poland are also printed in folders, flyers and other publications distributed at regional and local tourist information centers and handed out at many outdoor events such as trade events, festivals and tourism fairs. The most important such event is the Agrotravel International Rural Tourism and Agritourism Fair held in Poland since 2009. The event presents exhibitors with a superb opportunity to market their services and countryside attractions to visitors from many different countries and regions. The next, fifth, Agrotravel fair will be held in Kielce April 5-7, 2013.
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