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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » August 29, 2013
Destination Warsaw
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New Campaign to Attract Tourists
August 29, 2013   
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Bartłomiej Walas, Vice President of the Polish Tourism Organization, a government agency tasked with promoting Poland, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

In which markets is the Polish Tourism Organization (POT) planning a new campaign this fall and whom will it target?
We have plans for two different regions. One is in Europe and the other in Asia. We have funding for the programs from the EU. The campaigns in Asia will include China, India and Japan with a zl.50 million budget, most of which will go on China.

Our target in China includes both tour operators and tourism organizations as well as the consumer market. The campaign will also include some press and TV advertising. On the other hand, in India we will focus on their tourism organizers and the Bollywood industry. In Japan it will also be B2B promotions. These are not new markets for us—we have had representatives in both Japan and India before.

The Bollywood market sounds interesting...
We have had Indian productions filming in Poland, in particular in the Tatra mountains, but for the purposes of their films the scenery could have been anywhere, and so it did not promote Poland. However, we know that the best free promotion of a place is when you see beautiful scenery that inspires you to then travel to see it for yourself, or perhaps to have a similar experience to that shown in the film. So we want to convince the Indian Film Commission to look at us from that perspective and therefore to focus more on the direct promotion of Poland.

Where are your organization’s new priorities in Europe?
Between 2013-2014 they include Russia, Ukraine, Italy and Ireland and—using a different formula—the Czech Republic, which will have a focus on the internet and social networks. Overall, we have dedicated a bigger budget for these countries over the next 18 months than for Asia. We feel that the Czech market has much untapped potential. It is surprising that knowledge about Poland there is not as big as one would expect.

On the other hand, we want to encourage Russians and Ukrainians to come to Poland. And not only to shop, which is their main purpose today, because it is much cheaper here for them. We would also like them to pick Poland for their holidays, and that means that we also have to ensure that we have tourist products to suit their needs.

The POT statutory budget for 2013 is zl.38 million. How can you make that go further?
We look for different, more cost-effective ways of making our presence felt. For example, we organize study tours for tour operators and journalists. Usually we invite 600 journalists annually. We then measure how much direct publicity came from those visits as opposed to stories that the journalists would have written anyway. Last year we estimated that the value of material specially written and published after our study visits was worth 70 million euros. That far exceeds our total annual budget.

We only recently started to appreciate the effect of bloggers on promotion. It is really huge and much more cost effective and efficient than brochures or many other forms of traditional media.

We have 14 offices abroad, which we are reducing in number. First, they are expensive to maintain and our marketing approach has changed completely. Also, not enough people visit these offices to obtain information to justify keeping some of them.

Foreigners who come to Poland are often surprised to find a thoroughly modern country, and not the stereotype of a gray and backward one.
Our recent studies show that the Euro 2012 soccer championships contributed greatly to the improvement of our image abroad. Those who came here were asked if they would recommend Poland to others. And there was a unanimous positive answer. That is the best form of promotion you can wish for—testimonials, word of mouth and recommendations are the most effective tools in building trust and motivation to visit.
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