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The Warsaw Voice » Other » June 2, 2004
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Forward Thinking
June 2, 2004   
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Janusz Sepioł, chair of Małopolska Province talks with Edyta Gajewska.

What issues do you consider to be the most important for the development of Małopolska?
When considering the future of Małopolska and seeking the best development strategy, we determined three "regional opportunity industries." The first is "leisure" with its key element: tourism, the second is "culture," and the third-"high-tech."

The choice of the first "industry" is naturally connected with our region's great potential. We have many sights entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. On one hand, there is great diversification in terms of landscape-including the Tatra Mountains and as many as six national parks-and on the other the enormous heritage.

This is the core of Polish culture and art. Cracow itself by all means plays a major role here, but the whole region of Małopolska abounds in treasures-over 40,000 entries in conservator registers. Only recently, further historic buildings in Małopolska were included by UNESCO among world heritage sites: four wooden Medieval churches. A new application is being prepared today concerning inclusion of the Salt Mine in Bochnia and Greek-Catholic churches-by a Polish-Slovak-Ukrainian motion.

What are the most important points of the promotion of Małopolska?
As far as cultural tourism is concerned, the foremost sites are the city of Cracow, Wieliczka salt mine, the Holocaust route-Kazimierz, Płaszów and O¶więcim, the Papal route-Wadowice, Wawel and Łagiewniki as well as wooden architecture.

As the role and importance of "weekend tourism" is growing, skiing plays a considerable role. Many private investment projects have been completed; we estimate their value only last year at zl.15 million. The task facing us today is utilization of geothermal springs. In the near future, centers with swimming pools will be built in Białka Tatrzańska and, I hope, later also in Chochołów and Poronin. Large projects by serious hotel chains, such as SAS Radisson, Accor and Sheraton, also testify to an appreciation of the region's attractiveness.

The role of the airport in Balice, Poland's second-largest, "open sky" in connection with EU accession and the appearance of budget carriers on the market all play a significant role in development.

By what means are authorities in Małopolska encouraging tourists to visit the region?
We have our own regional stand at nearly all the major tourist fairs: in Berlin, London, Vienna, Lyon. We have established the Małopolska Tourist Organization (MOT), to deal with, among other things, the region's promotion at home and worldwide; the MOT already issues a large amount of leaflets and pamphlets. Personally, I pin special hopes on the Internet. We have the regional service provider Wrota Małopolski (Gateway to Małopolska) and the tender for its implementation was won by the well-known firm Comarch.

Comarch is an example of a rapidly developing computer firm, headquartered near the Cracow special economic zone. Many firms are using the intellectual potential of Cracow that derives from our renowned institutions of higher education. It is no problem to find well-educated people speaking many languages here, including those which are not so popular around the world, therefore large firms eagerly locate their research and development centers in the area. I always joke that soccer is a metaphor of life, and in Cracow it is particularly significant that our two teams are sponsored by high-tech firms: Wisła by Tele-Fonika, and Cracovia by Comarch.
The "culture industry"-or the cultural services market-is an increasingly popular concept. A considerable part of this industry is located in the capital, but the largest private radiostation, RMF FM, is based in Cracow. Services provided by Cracow conservators are valued around the world and the publishing market is also doing well-as proved by the Book Fair in Cracow.

But will it be able to develop?
There are a great number of dreams and future plans involved here. But things are already changing for the better: construction has started on a music theater and sports stadiums. Jagiellonian University (UJ) is building a splendid hall and Cracow has made important road investments-it is one of few cities in Poland that has a beltway linked to the freeways. We are counting on EU funds, as we successfully managed the pre-accession money allocated to us. We are preparing new applications in order to implement many projects the region needs.

Cracow's Holiday
June 4-6
On June 5, 1257, Polish ruler Bolesław V-also known as Bolesław the Chaste-signed the most important document of Cracow: the city's founding charter. It will be read aloud on Róż Avenue in Nowa Huta to kick off this year's Cracow Holiday celebrations, followed by a grand open-air show: Avenue of Hope-Rebirth. For the first time ever, an increasingly important industrial district of the city, and not Cracow's Market Square, will be the main scene of the event.

As part of the Second Cracow Recycling Festival, a scale model of the Sukiennice cloth hall will be erected on the Błonia green June 4-6. It will consist of 60,000 glass bottles and jars, lit up at night and used as the background for a concert by Michał Urbaniak, with performers including the bands Pod Bud±, Perfect, Czerwony Tulipan and Shannon, and a fireworks display on Sunday.

The Cavalry Formations Holiday will take place on Mogilskie Błonia on Klasztorna Street, with a program including a rodeo, lance and saber wielding and crossbow.

June 5, visits to Mariacka Tower will be available free of charge. Plays from medieval Cracow will be reenacted on Wszystkich ¦więtych Square. About 1 p.m., the Holiday of Bracka and Gołębia Streets will begin; not only the firms located there, but also the streets' residents will present their own stands and attractions.

June 6 is City Hall Open Day-an opportunity to visit the municipality headquarters: the beautiful Wielopolski Palace, together with the mayor's office, plus lectures and guided sightseeing tours. Photography exhibitions will also be on display: One Day in the Life of the City, and Cracow in Wiesław Majka's Camera. The stage in front of the City Hall will present artistic performances-a singing lesson with Loch Camelot starts at 3 p.m. The program of the I Love Cracow Fifth Week of the Handicapped June 1-6 includes a concert by Agnieszka Rosner-Zawilińska and Adam Pi¶ko.

The program's complementary exhibitions will be A City Portrait-55 Years of Nowa Huta in the Foto Galeria NCK gallery, Ars Naturae, Nature and/of Art in Bunkier Sztuki as part of the Polish-German Festival Touch of the Elements-Art and Ecology in the Polish-German Dialogue. These are only some of City Holiday's many attractive events.
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