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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » September 30, 2013
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Millions From Conventions
September 30, 2013   
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Krzysztof Celuch, head of the Poland Convention Bureau, part of the government-run Polish Tourist Organization, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

Are there plans to build more convention centers and meeting venues in Warsaw?
That is a question for the Warsaw City authorities and investors. I should mention that we already have several excellent venues, such as Expo XXI, MT Polska, the National Stadium and the Legia Stadium. Not to mention hotels such as the Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, Sheraton and the Intercontinental. Also, some of Warsaw’s universities can handle around 1,000 delegates.

We have very interesting and unique venues for conferences that do not automatically come to mind, such as the Warsaw University of Technology. We have several smaller modern venues, as well as historic ones, such as the Royal Castle, Wilanów Palace or the Palace on the Isle in Łazienki Park for special functions and banquets.

How will Warsaw handle the expected 15,000 delegates to the COP19 climate conference in November?
I am sure that apart from the main program at the National Stadium, many of the conference venues I mentioned above will conduct side conferences and events associated with the COP19 conference. We have shown with the COP conference in Poznań five years ago that we can do it. And today we have even more and better infrastructure in place.

Ten years ago we successfully hosted the first AIDS conference with 6,000 people, and two years ago the European wind energy congress for 7,000 people. We have also held several conventions for over 3,000 people. Warsaw has one of the best convention facilities in this part of Europe.

How do we compare with other countries?
We don’t have a dedicated convention center that can handle more than 6,000 delegates in an auditorium-style venue, but then the question is whether we really need one. We need to decide what type of meetings business we want to concentrate on.

Maybe we should focus on 1,000 to 4,000 people, rather than on 20,000 people. We need to look at our priorities and at what is at this point more beneficial for us. We need to consider how many such large meetings are held in Europe and around the world and is it appropriate that we focus on them, and whether we are ready to cope with them.

Which industries organize the greatest number of conventions and meetings in Poland?
We prepare comprehensive annual reports to provide us with all the information to target our potential market efficiently.

The most popular conventions and meetings include such areas as economics, agriculture, archaeology, psychology, economics and anthropology. Nearly 1.2 million delegates attended these conferences in Poland in 2012. One million people attended conventions and conferences in fields such as urban planning, automation and robotics, electronics, electrical engineering, chemical technology and transportation. In total, over 3 million delegates attended conferences and meetings in Poland in 2012.

How many are local conferences and how many are organized from abroad?
According to the Poland Meetings and Events Industry Report, 43 percent are from within Poland, 16 percent international, 12 percent regional (two or more regions) and 29 percent local, that is from one Polish province.

What are your strategies to attract convention business from abroad?
We have just finished the first part of “Let’s Promote Poland Together,” which is the first joint campaign with the Polish Tourist Organization (POT) on European markets, focused on Germany, France and Britain.

The second part of the campaign will focus on Spain, Italy and Ireland. We will do a couple of roadshows in Madrid, Dublin and Florence. And we’ve just started a new project called “I Like Polska” in China, Japan and India, where we are focusing on both conventions and leisure tourism.

The Poland Convention Bureau is part of the Polish Tourist Organization and so we have a synergy with all our promotions. We combine our efforts to speak with one voice and complement each other. We also combine our leisure and meetings promotional funds to make our money go further. We try to build a holistic industry approach.

How much is the convention and meetings industry worth in Poland?
The meetings industry has grown significantly since 2009. We calculate that in 2012 the added value to the Polish economy was approximately zl.610 million. We estimate that we contributed to the creation of more than 11,000 jobs.
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