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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » March 27, 2013
Destination Warsaw
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The Challenge of ‘Selling’ Poland
March 27, 2013   
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Andrzej Hulewicz, vice-president of Mazurkas Travel DMC Poland, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

How will Mazurkas Travel be involved in the organization of the COP19 climate conference in Warsaw in November?
At this stage Mazurkas Travel has been nominated as the accommodation agent for this event. Warsaw has never held such a single big event for over 10,000 people with over 100,000 room nights. We have been invited as we have many years of experience as professional conference organizers and we have organized many successful conferences in Warsaw in the past. Our biggest one so far was for 6,000 people—the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology Congress in 2009.

There were a few problems at the Poznań COP conference in 2008. How will such problems be overcome this year in Warsaw?
Big events always bring a lot of business and some hotels want to take advantage of that. I don’t expect a repeat of the situation in Poznań, as in Warsaw we have more hotels. Of course, prices will be higher than usual, but I am sure that Warsaw will demonstrate that it is responsible and ready for such a big event. All the suppliers are ready to cooperate and prices should be commensurate with the service.

Will Mazurkas Travel be involved in other organizational aspects of the conference?
Possibly. A big part of our company’s activities include transportation—we are a big player in this field. We were heavily involved in this regard during Poland’s EU presidency and during the Euro 2012 soccer championships and some other big events as well. Several times we operated 150-200 buses for individual events.

We have also branched out into catering for big events in Warsaw and throughout the country. We are now one of the biggest catering providers in Poland. This operation is part of our MCC Hotel and Conference Center near Warsaw. We catered for over 2,500 guests daily at the Euro 2012 press center, as well as at many large receptions during the Polish EU presidency, and so we also hope to have a catering role during COP19.

You have said that Poland is not an easy product to sell and not the most popular destination. Why?
Our company sees it as a pleasurable challenge to turn that around. Poland is difficult to sell because other destinations, such as Paris, London or Rome, can offer more than we can in terms of attractions. Additionally, the perception of Poland is still poor, we have to prove that there is something to do and see here. We have to present an interesting product dressed in an interesting package. There is still much to do in every Polish city in order to come out with a good product that answers why Poland is a good destination. Of course, the situation has vastly improved as our infrastructure has greatly improved and there are more entertainment and cultural events taking place in every city, so that Poland is more attractive to foreigners. The encouraging thing is that, as a destination, we are starting to win over places such as Barcelona, Istanbul and the like. People are coming here because it is a new destination that today looks attractive. We can surprise them with something new, we can offer good accommodation, good food and we can create or show off some memorable attractions.

If you had to name two or three things that would entice a foreigner to come to Warsaw, what would they be?
Some obvious answers come to mind—good flight connections, an airport close to the city center, reasonable hotel prices, lower than in other capitals. The most important thing is that we try to show people the soul of Poland, we try to emphasize some famous brands such as Lech Wałęsa, Marie Curie-Skłodowska, John Paul II, Chopin, Copernicus and so on.

Of course, there are other brands as well, such as Polish vodka and Polish food, sometimes served in an unexpected style, such as Polish cuisine nouvelle. We also try to highlight Warsaw’s multitude of cultural events and new attractions, for example the Chopin Museum and the Copernicus Science Center, and we are very excited about the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is due to open later this year.

Does the company also work to attract business to Poland?
Yes, one of our company’s objectives is to bring conferences and congresses to Poland and we assist people from industry and the scientific community in organizing large conferences here that attract international guests.
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