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The Warsaw Voice » Business » November 28, 2013
Business & Economy
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More Foreign Tourists
November 28, 2013   
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Poland is attracting a growing number of foreign tourists. Last year, 14.8 million visitors from abroad came to this country, and this year more than 15 million are expected.

According to a study by the Institute of Tourism and the Activ Group company, last year 11 percent more foreign tourists visited Poland than in 2011. Visitors from Germany accounted for 32.4 percent of the total number, followed by those from Ukraine (13.5 percent), Belarus (10.8 percent), Russia (4.5 percent), Lithuania (4.1 percent), and Britain (3.3 percent). The increasing number of foreign tourist arrivals is due to factors including the Euro 2012 soccer tournament held in Poland and Ukraine in June last year.

According to a report by the Polish Tourist Organization (POT), the greatest increase was recorded in the case of visitors from Poland’s eastern neighbors: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus—by 40 percent altogether. Tourists from countries whose teams played in Poland during Euro 2012—especially Ireland, Greece and Portugal as well as Norway, Switzerland and Latvia—were responsible for the second largest increase, at 6 percent. A similar increase was noted in the case of visitors from Germany and Britain.

Thanks to the positive experiences of visitors and favorable reports in international media, Poland’s image abroad improved considerably after Euro 2012. According to the Brand Finance Institute, Poland recorded the greatest increase in its national brand value among 100 countries surveyed in 2012—by an impressive 75 percent. Poland’s brand value increased from $269 billion to $472 billion.

“Thanks to this, Poland became one of the top 20 countries with the most valuable national brand,” says Rafał Szmytke, chairman of POT. The tourism industry contributed 6 percent of Poland’s GDP in 2012 in what was its highest contribution since 2007.

Even though Euro 2012 was a one-off event and analysts expected a decline in the number of foreign tourists visiting Poland in 2013, the latest forecasts suggest that the number of visitors from abroad will increase again this year. According to a survey by Activ Group, commissioned by the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, there were 35 million foreign arrivals during the first six months of this year, 5.6 percent more than in the same period of last year.

The number of tourist arrivals—defined as trips by people who spent at least one night in the place or country they visited—during this time exceeded 7.1 million, growing by 6 percent, Active Group said.

Studies show that foreign tourists spent $353 in Poland on average in the first half of this year, with the weighted average per day of stay at $77. Both figures are higher than in the corresponding period of 2012 (by 2.6 percent and 5.4 percent respectively). The increase in average expenditure by tourists chiefly applies to Scandinavians and Lithuanians as well as Italians and Ukrainians. On the other hand, Russian, Slovak and French tourists reduced their spending.

Studies of tourist traffic show that in the case of countries responsible for most of the tourist traffic to Poland, such as Italy, Britain and Nordic countries, the downward trend in average tourist spending noted last year reversed this year—these countries have increased their role in terms of tourist spending, though only British visitors significantly increased their presence among foreigners visiting Poland.

Data for the first half of 2013 confirms the growing importance of foreign-exchange income generated by tourists arriving from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. This is due to both an increased average level of expenditure and the number of arrivals. In turn, the economic importance of arrivals from Slovakia and the Czech Republic decreased in the first half of the year. In the case of Slovakia, traffic is growing, while spending is decreasing, while in the case of the Czech Republic both traffic and spending are falling.

According to analysts from the Polish Tourist Organization, revenue from tourism in Poland this year is expected to approach $11.7 billion, growing by 11 percent.

Forecasts by the Institute of Tourism indicate that the number of tourists visiting Poland between 2013 and 2018 will increase by 2.5-3 percent on average in annual terms. Revenue from foreigners visiting Poland in 2014 is expected to rise to $12 billion, followed by $12.5 billion in 2015. The Institute of Tourism estimates that the number of tourists visiting Poland in 2014 and 2015 will be 15 million and 15.4 million respectively. The increase will be due to factors including educational and cultural tourism, the Institute of Tourism says. In addition, the number of foreigners visiting Poland in connection with conferences or seminars is also expected to increase.
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