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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » November 3, 2014
Poland - Meetings Destination
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Tourism and Meetings Industry: Big Potential
November 3, 2014   
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Inbound tourism and the meetings industry could help boost the Polish economy, according to participants in a seminar held by The Warsaw Voice Oct. 6 as part of the Poland Meetings Destination series.

The four-hour seminar took place at the Warsaw Stock Exchange and sought to answer whether and how the rapidly changing political situation in Europe and around the world could affect the development of tourism and the meetings industry in Poland. Tourism accounts for around 9 percent of the global economy. In the EU, the meetings industry, including conventions, conferences, exhibitions and trade fairs, generates up to 4 percent of the bloc’s GDP. In Poland, the tourism sector is responsible for 6.5 percent of the GDP, but the meetings industry generates only 2.5 percent. This means that Poland still has large potential in this area and a lot of work to do to catch up with the EU average. However, as the eight largest economy in the EU, Poland should set the bar higher for itself, meeting participants said.

Questions asked during the meeting included to what extent inbound tourism and the meetings industry in Poland could be affected by recent developments in Ukraine. Some wondered if, given the circumstances, it was worth putting effort and money into this sector and if so, what measures and tools could be particularly useful.

The seminar included a panel discussion attended by Katarzyna Sobierajska, an under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Sports and Tourism, Rafał Szmytke, president of the Polish Tourist Organization, and Ireneusz Ra¶, chairman of the parliamentary committee on physical education, sports and tourism. The panelists agreed that inbound tourism and the meetings industry have potential to develop because Poland’s growing role on the international scene promotes decisions encouraging further development of this sector of the economy. That, however, requires extra funds for investment and promotion. Discussion participants debated an idea to enable local authorities to charge tourists small fees. Collected at hotels, for example, such fees could be spent by local governments on the development and promotion of tourism.

Participants in the second part of the seminar, moderated by Krzysztof Celuch, head of the Polish Tourist Organization’s Poland Convention Bureau division, cited examples of major international events held in Poland recently and scheduled to take place soon. Seminar attendees shared their experience in attracting such events to Polish cities.
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