Poland Daniella Jackson

The importance of mobilities and the experience economy for tourism/events

Mobilities has a close connection to tourism and events - described as a large-scale movement “of people, objects, capital and information across the world” and the “local processes of daily transportation” (Hannam, Sheller and Urry, 2006: 1). Mobilities support the experience economy (“enjoyable, engaging (and) memorable encounters” to a domestic and international audience). Without mobilities and the experience economy, events and tourism would lack visitor population (Oh, Fiore and Jeoung, 2015: 2).

Distinctive characteristics of Poland in the viewpoint of tourism/events

Characteristics of international travel flows

Poland’s international tourist arrivals have been growing since 2010 and saw a 5% growth from 16000 in 2014 to 16728 in 2015. International tourism receipts have been decreasing since 2012 including a 15.5% reduction from US$11234m in 2014 to US$9728m in 2015 (UNWTO, 2016). Although, there is no evidence for tourist arrivals or tourism receipts for 2011 or 2012 so it may not have been a consistent increase in tourist arrivals.

Figure 1: Table of international tourism statistics (UNWTO, 2016).

Key features of domestic Travel

In 2014, domestic spending contributed to 33.3% of Polish tourism incomes at US$5639.8m and is expected to rise by 2.4% to US$7550.6m in 2025 (World travel and tourism council, 2015). Domestic expenditure had increased by 1.9% from 2014 to 2015.

In 2014, 80% of total nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments in Poland were accounted for by domestic tourists. Malopolskie (which includes the city of Krakow) is the most popular region for inbound tourists in 2014 (Eurostat, 2016).

Flights to the popular city Warsaw, from Gdansk and Wroclaw, have doubled daily to meet the needs of domestic tourists (Market research, 2016).

Location and main characteristics of transport

Location characteristics

Poland has seven neighboring countries and is located in Eastern Europe. The independent state is the 70th largest nation in the world with an area of 3126885km2 . The country is set on lowland with the exception of its mountain ranges (World atlas, 2015). The Baltic coast in Poland accounts for 525km of beach, bays and steep cliffs. There are also 23 national parks which cover 3,200 sq km, alongside many lakes, rivers and canals located in northern Poland including their longest river (Vistula) which is 1,090km long (World Travel Guide, 2016).

Main characteristics of transport

Ryanair (Poland’s number one airline) announced new routes from Belfast to Wroclaw, Warsaw and Gdansk commencing winter 2016 after a flourish in inbound tourism. They have also announced double daily flights from Gdansk and Wroclaw to Warsaw alongside a new base at Warsaw Modlin. (Ryanair holdings plc., 2014).

Intercity express, regional and fast trains build up the well-developed railway network alongside 14 border-crossing trains to Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Within the city, buses, trams, and an underground service in Warsaw, are used for cheap public transports (Polska, 2016b).

Key resources

Cultural resources

There are 13 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Poland including:

• Auschwitz Birkenau was the largest German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp in the Third Reich used 1940-1945. Today the site is preserved to show how the Holocacust, Nazi German policy of mass murder and forced labour took place. Personal items are held in collections as testimony to the lives of the victims. The site has been conserved well – giving itself a high level of authenticity and integrity (UNESCO, 2016a).

Auschwitz Birkenau

• The Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines is run by Wieliczka Saltworks castle and has been rebuilt several times in its history. It is the oldest of its type in Europe and has attained a royal status. Both mines illustrate the historic stages of the development of mining techniques in Europe from the 13th centuries to the 20th centuries including hundred of kilometres of galleries with art work, underground chapels and statues sculpted in the salt (UNESCO, 2016b).

The Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines

• The Old city of Zamosc was founded in the 16th century by the chancellor Jan Zamoysky, modelled on Italian theories of the ‘ideal city’. The late-16th-century Renaissance town has retained its original layout and fortifications. The town’s community was planned to be multinational from the outset but resulted in having a high level of religious tolerance. (UNESCO, 2016c).

The Old City of Zamosc

Natural resources

The only UNESCO natural world heritage site is the Bialowieza Forest. It is situated on the border of Poland and is an immense range or primary forest covering a total area of 141,885 hectatares. The Forest is home to the largest population of the European bison – the property’s iconic species (UNESCO, 2016d).

Bialowieza forest

There are three major mountain chains in Poland - the Carpathians, the Sudetan Mountains, and the Góry Świętokrzyskie (World atlas, 2015). The Carpathian Mountain range is the highest in Central Europe at 2499m high. The annual precipitation of the Carpathians and Sudetes is 800-1400mm – caused by the proximity of the Baltiuc Sea (Polska, 2016c).

The Błędów Desert is one of five natural deserts in Europe and is located in Poland (Szostak, M., Wȩyk, P., Hawryło, P., Puchała, M., 2016). There are also 23 national parks in Poland (covering a total area of 3200 sq km) including its oldest - Bialowieski National Park – which is Europe’s only remaining pristine lowland forests (Polska, 2016d).

Key Events in poland

• The Sacrum Profanum festival is an international project that has gained the status as one of the most interesting music events in Europe. The event has won many awards including the most important Polish awards and distinctions. It was included in the official calendar of the Polish Presidency in the Council of the European Union. It is recommended by prestigious music magazines and has over 160 journalists from Poland and abroad every year (Sacrum Profanum, 2016).

Sacrum Profanum

• Festival of Jewish culture in Krakow – One of the largest festivals in the world presenting the Jewish culture. It has been running since 1988 and started as a small, local event and has grown to be one of the most important cultural events in Poland. Every year the festival features almost 300 events within 10 days including 30,000 participants from many different countries (Jewish culture festival, 2016).

• The Piast Race in Jakuszyce – one of the largest cross-country skiing events in Europe – has been running since 1976. The race has increasingly been recognized by experts and skiers worldwide and has been affiliated with the World League of Long Distance Runs since 2008 (Polska, 2016a).

EURO 2012

The UEFA European Championship 2012 (one of the world’s biggest sporting events) was co-hosted by Poland. The event has been running since 1954 and is held every four years (UEFA, 2015). Over 1.44 million people attended and the match in Warsaw brought an all time record TV audience at an average of 14.7 million viewers (UEFA, 2012).

Warsaw Stadium

It was held across four venues in Poland: Legia in Warsaw, Wisla and Cracovia in Krakow and Zaglebua Lubin in Lubin (The stadium guide, 2012). AT a cost of PLN 4.3bn, two of these stadiums were built new for the event; with both host cities spending a combined total of €30bn on infrastructure prior to hosting the event. €1.7m was also spent to guarantee free public transport – included in the €17bn spent on 80 vital investment projects, which is recorded as the largest logistical operation ever carried out in Poland. This also led to a 88.9% high satisfaction rate by fans for services provided in Poland. Additional income from tourism as a result of hosting the tournament was estimated at €1.922m in Poland with long-term economic effect at a 1.3% GDP growth.

EURO 2012 - Poland

There were also little issues faced with only 6 racist incidents, 739 health and safety issues (though non fatal) and 1360 tonnes of waste which remained less than aimed for (UEFA EURO, 2012).

sWOT analysis of tourism and events in poland


A variety of events are held throughout the year, many of which are recognised across both Europe and the world (Polska, 2016a). One mega-event hosted in Poland was The EURO 2012 which lead to recently well developed transport links – stated to be the largest logistical operation ever carried out in Poland (UEFA EURO, 2012). The event also brought lots of positive attention to Poland during its success.

Domestic tourism is strong which is evident by the domestic expenditure and hotel night statistics previously mentioned (World travel and tourism council, 2015).

The environment of Poland has given opportunity for many events such as a national ski rally and the Piast Race to take place – bringing in tourists and interest from many specialists in this area (Polska, 2016a).


Poland doesn’t have a strong share of international tourist arrivals or receipts compared to other European countries like France and Spain (UNWTO, 2016). In terms of efficiency, Poland is one of the most energy and material consuming economies in the European Union. However, national waste management plans have been put in place to meet its new objectives to improve this problem (EEA, 2015).

Another weakness to Polish tourism is being placed 42nd in the world ranking of travel and tourism in 2014. This shows Poland has a lot to improve and work on to become a top world tourist destination. Also, in 2014, Poland was below 50% of the world average ‘Travel and tourism’s direct contribution to GDP’ at US$ 9.3bn in comparison to US$19.4bn or the Europe average of US$16.6bn (World travel and tourism council, 2015). This shows that Poland needs to improve its tourism spending to be up with the average or better.


The Carpathian mountain area is seen as a ‘new destination’ and can be a strong natural and cultural asset and is an opportunity for bringing in curious and interested visitors (Carpathian convention, 2013).

International tourist arrivals appear to be growing continually to Poland – leading to additional flights being added to Poland from various destinations including Belfast to cater for the increase in international tourists (UNWTO, 2016). This would be a great opportunity for Poland to flourish as it currently relies heavily on domestic tourism.


Poorly planned and implemented tourism infrastructure, tours and tourist activities in the Carpathian mountain area can have a serious impact on the fragile ecosystems, as well as on the communities that inhabit mountain regions (Carpathian convention, 2013). International tourist receipts decreased from 2013 to 2014, and though 2015 is not included, this could be seen as a threat suggesting a decreased interest in Poland to tourists (UNWTO, 2016).


Carpathian Convention (2013) Strategy for the future sustainable tourism development of the carpathians. Carpathian Convention. Available from: http://www.carpathianconvention.org/tl_files/carpathiancon/Downloads/03%20Meetings%20and%20Events/Working%20Groups/Sustainable%20Tourism/Carpathian_SusTourStrat_2409_ConsultationDraft.pdf [Accessed 15th December 2016].

European Environment Agency (2015) SOER 2015 – Poland. European Environment Agency. Available from: http://www.eea.europa.eu/soer-2015/countries/poland [Accessed 19th December 2016].

Eurostat (2016) Tourism statistics at regional level. Eurostat. Available from: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Tourism_statistics_at_regional_level [Accessed 18th December 2016].

Hannam, K., Sheller, M. and Urry, J. (2006) Editorial: Mobilities, Immobilities and Moorings. Mobilities. 1 (1) 1-22.

Jewish culture festival (2016) Jewish culture festival. Festiwal Kultury Zydowskiej. Available from: http://www.jewishfestival.pl/en/jewish-culture-festival/ [Accessed 17th December 2016].

Market research (2016) Travel and Tourism in Poland to 2020. Canadean ltd.

Oh, H., Fiore, A. M. and Jeoung, M. (2007) Measuring experience economy concepts: tourism applications. Journal of travel research. 119 (32) 1-14.

Polska (2016a) Events Calendar. Available from: www.poland.travel/en/events-calendar/page-1 [Accessed 23rd October 2016].

Polska (2016b) Travel by rail. Available from: www.poland.travel/en-gb/travel-by-rail. [Accessed 23rd October 2016].

Polska (2016c) Geography. Available from: http://www.poland.travel/en-gb/about-poland/geography. [Accessed 18th December 2016].

Polska (2016d) Nature. Available from: http://www.poland.travel/en-gb/search/nature. [Accessed 18th December 2016].

Ryanair holding plc. (2014) Ryanair holdings PLCRYANAIR ANNOUNCES 2 NEW POLISH BASES. Regulatory News Service.

Sacrum Profanum (2016) About Festival. Open form. Available from: http://sacrumprofanum.com/about-festival [Accessed 15th December 2016].

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http://es.uefa.com/MultimediaFiles/Download/uefaorg/General/02/10/87/62/2108762_DOWNLOAD.pdf [Accessed 2nd November 2016].

UNESCO (2016a) Auschwitz Birkenau. UNESCO. Available from: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/31 [Accessed 17th December 2016].

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UNESCO (2016c) Old city of Zamosc. UNESCO. Available from: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/564 [Accessed 17th December 2016].

UNESCO (2016d) Bialowleza Forest. UNESCO. Available from: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/33 [Accessed 17th December 2016].

UNWTO (2016) Tourism Highlights 2016 edition. World Tourism Organization. Available from: http://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284418145 [Accessed 4th November 2016].

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Created with images by Grzegorz Rogala - "Wroclaw Equirectangular HDR" • Martijn.Munneke - "Auschwitz" • jessica mullen - "DSCN6672" • Kyle Taylor, Dream It. Do It. - "Salt Mines - 61" • jessica mullen - "DSCN6682" • RonPorter - "wieliczka salt mine poland sculpture" • Kyle Taylor, Dream It. Do It. - "Salt Mines - 69" • DzidekLasek - "zamość poland mood" • Robert_z_Ziemi - "marsh bialowieza forest forest" • DzidekLasek - "poland mountains tatry" • Pawel Pacholec - "Mountain snowy landscape horizon" • WDnetStudio - "snow peaks meadows sheep" • r-a-d-e-k - "Dj Vadim" • DrabikPany - "Michaela Rajnochova" • kubapleszka - "tatra mountains range" • DrabikPany - "Tuż przed zawodami" • jbquig - "pics 287" • _gee_ - "fan zone3"

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