Poland The Holder of A Cultural Festival

Introduction

With amazing “scenic rural areas that keep many traditions alive” (Hall, Lew, Timothy, 2008, 118), wildlife, modern buildings and a distinctive Polish cuisine, the experience economy is becoming more important to Poland because this is what helps bring tourists into an area. With over 15,000 overnight tourists travelling annually to Poland (UNWTO, 2016, 8), it's important to keep the experience economy alive.

Referring to the concept of mobilities, the world has become more accessible for all due to the increase of technology, transportation and communications, allowing tourists to travel further distances at a faster speed due to a “shrinking world.” (Urry, 2000) Although this makes travelling and getting involved in global social events easier for tourists, it also means places are becoming more like each other, offering similae shops, styles of fashion and so on. Poland has overcome this, however, by making its experience economy more diverse than other countries by making use of the natural and cultural resources.

This website talks about the positives and negatives of holding a cultural festival in Poland, referring to its transportation, resources and whether it’s a viable destination altogether for such an event.

"I first travelled to Poland...in the 1980s and was touched by the humour, wit and kindness of people...over numerous return trips, I've been able to live deeper and try to understand the culture..." (Baker, 2016)

(YouTube, 2011)

Travel Flows

After an economic crisis within Poland in the 1990’s, the country has seen an increase in tourism. Before this era, tourists travelled from communist societies with the aim of a short stay in Poland. To this date, Poland now attracts tourists from a “large ethnic market in North America, the UK and other countries of Western Europe…for VFR or business purposes, but increasing numbers are visiting Poland…primarily for cultural reasons.” (Boniface, Cooper, Cooper, 2012, 324) As shown in Figure 1, Poland’s international tourist arrivals (mainly overnight visitors) has risen from 12,470,000 in 2010 to 16,728,000, recorded in 2015. (UNWTO, 2016, 8)

Figure 1. International Tourist Arrivals in Poland. (UNWTO, 2016, 8)

Domestic Travel Trends

Poland’s domestic tourism has been increasing over the last few years because the country has been encouraging its citizens to spend their holidays within the country. Although there are no precise statistics, head of the tourism chamber’s Pomerania branch said “various estimates have pointed to an up to 20% increase in tourism on Poland’s northern Baltic Sea coast this summer.” (Radio Poland, 2016)

Figure 2 illustrates reasons as to why Polish people travel domestically. As shown in the table, most domestic Polish vacations are to visit family and friends, whilst education is the least common reason as to why Polish people would travel domestically. (Central Statistical Office of Poland, 2016, 238)

In 2015, it was recorded that there were 50.2m domestic trips, 29.6m being short trips (2-4 days) and 20.6m being long trips (5+ days). (Central Statistical Office of Poland, 2016, 166) Figure 3 shows where domestic Polish travellers took trips in 2015, and compares the total trips in 2015 to 2014. There has been an obvious increase overall, with the most popular province in Poland being Malopolskie. (Central Statistical Office of Poland, 2016, 240)

Figure 2. Tourism Trips of Polish Residents. (Central Statistical Office of Poland, 2016, 238)
Figure 3. Poland Domestic Trips. (Central Statistical Office of Poland, 2016, 240)

Transportation

Poland’s main form of transportation around the country is the use of roads. There are over 380,000km of roads around Poland, 55,000km of these being paved for pedestrians as well as 1,000km of the total being motorways or expressways. (EuroRap, 2015)

Tourists can travel to/around Poland through the airport system. There are 126 airports as well as 6 heliports around the country (Central Intelligence Agency, 2013), which makes Poland more accessible for travellers because flights can go inbound or outbound.

Another way tourists can transport around Poland is by the 19,837km of railway systems. (Central Intelligence Agency, 2013) With over 5 railway stations around Poland, tourists would be able to visit various cities during their stay. Figure 4 clearly illustrates the railway network around Poland, as well as some of the networks connected outside the country’s borders.

Figure 5 shows transportation systems over Poland, including tramway and the underground/metro systems, that tourists can use.

Figure 4. Railway System in Poland. (IT Maniak, 2015)
Figure 5. Transportation Networks in Poland. (Wagalu, 2016)
"Poland is not perceived as a typical tourist destination. However, due to the investments in tourist infrastructure...Poland has become the country which offers many opportunities for business and individual travellers." (Johann, 2014)

Resources, Attractions and Events

Wroclaw European City of Culture 2016

Wroclaw entered to be the European City of Culture to make people aware of the "unusual, tragic and intriguing" (Wroclaw 2016, 2016) historic story. World War 2 had both a physical and emotional impact on the city, and a new city was born post-war. Wroclaw wants to show people how ruins can grow to become a city with culture and aspirations, and without culture, civilisation can't develop. (Wroclaw 2016, 2016)

The City of Krakow

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Hall et al, 2008, 118) and Best European City Trip 2014 (Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Yerevan, 2014) the city is known for its medieval atmosphere. There are a range of culture attractions such as the Market Square, the Cloth Hall and the Wawel Castle. (Boniface et al, 2012, 325) Krakow attracts around 3 million domestic and outbound tourists annually and offers over 3,000 historical monuments around the city. (UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 2016)

The Baltic Coast

The Baltic Coast was first established in Ancient Times, and offers 500km of beaches and lagoons, which is backed by pine forests. Although the coast is known to be cloudy and windy, it accounts for 1/3 of overnight holidays because tourists say the coast is "by far the most popular destination." (Boniface et al, 2012, 324) In cases of bad weather, tourists can explore various lighthouses situated along the coast. The lighthouse in Rozewie was found to be the most famous in 2014, which had 102,000 visitors. (Kruczek, 2015, 50)

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Auschwitz is the largest concentration camp of World War 2 where 1.5 million Jews (and other minorities) were tortured. The camp attracts dark tourism and is one of Poland's "most important heritage destinations." (Hall et al, 2008, 118) Auschwitz opened as a tourist attraction instantly after the war in 1945, and has since had more than 44 million visitors from all over the world. (Auschwitz, 2015a) The highest number of tourists to visit the concentration camp has so far been in 2014, where there were 1.5 million visitors. The top place where tourists came from was Poland itself, accounting 398,000 of visitors. (Auschwitz, 2015a) Figure 6 shows the income that is generated by the camp. (Auschwitz, 2015b)

Figure 6. Income Generated by Auschwitz. (Auschwitz, 2015b)

The Tradition of Easter

The Polish religion believes eggs are to be blessed because they “symbolise life and have the power to ward off evil spirits.” (Polska, 2016a) Eggs are decorated with colourful patterns to celebrate this aspect of Polish culture.

Euro 2012

Due to Poland cohosting Euro 2012 with Ukraine, the Polish national team were guaranteed a spot in the group stage of the tournament. Despite not making it through to the knockout stages, the team put on a good performance and the tournament was a great success. It was a major highlight for Poland's sporting events and brought an outstanding atmosphere to the country. (UEFA EURO 2012, 2016)

The Jewish Culture Festival

The Jewish Culture Festival has been a yearly event that has been held in the city of Krakow since 1988, and normally has around 30,000 visitors. (Kruczek, 2015, 52) The festival is known to be a “milestone in the public embrace of Jewish culture in Poland” (Gruber, 2002, 46) because it made the whole Polish country aware of the Jewish culture. Television coverage is also used to bring viewers throughout Europe as well as around the world together to further increase knowledge of the culture. In 2017, the event will be held from the 24th of June to the 2nd of July and is where Polish and Jewish people meet to “strengthen the process of understanding and reconciliation," where the 2 cultures build mutual relations. (Polska, 2016b)

(YouTube, 2013)

The event is held for just over a week where there are various activities such as lectures, presentations and stories told by Jews, performances, exhibitions and film screenings, where the 2 cultures build relations on a mutual ground. Jewish cultural music is also played throughout the festival and Jewish cuisine is shared between the various cultures that meet at the event. Overall, there are more than 100 separate events that take place through the streets of Krakow. (Polska, 2016b)

"Jewish Culture Festival...presents diversity and beauty of the Jewish culture from all around the globe." (Jewish Festival, 2015)

An Evaluation of Poland's Tourism and Events

Strengths of Poland

One of the main strengths of travelling to Poland is the number of events held in the country each year, so there is always something for tourists to do. The top experience places in Poland are known to be Krakow, Warsaw, Gdansk and Wroclaw. (Lonely Planet, 2016a) In all the cities around Poland, there are various activities on offer: various rivers, lakes and bays (including the Baltic Sea) for water sports, wildlife such as bison and moose, mountains, parties and street events such as the gathering of 5,602 guitarists and 50,000 football fans in Warsaw. (YouTube, 2011) A threat for Poland could be the fact that there are other countries and cities that offer more diverse activities, like Spain.

The current exchange rate for £1 is 4.85zł. Midrange hotel rooms normally cost between 100 and 200zł, whilst a meal in a midrange restaurant normally costs around 80zł. (Lonely Planet, 2016b) This shows things are easily affordable for consumers, and you don’t need to be too wealthy to travel to Poland. The exchange rate could be a threat because they constantly fluctuate and prices of tourism could easily increase.

Weaknesses of Poland

If tourists are looking for a holiday that involves sunny days out, Poland is not the best choice due to the climate. The temperature in Poland is normally cold and cloudy. Winters are normally severe and summers are mild but there are frequent chances of showers/thunderstorms. (Central Intelligence Agency, 2013) This could be an opportunity for Poland by introducing and advertising more indoor activities for tourists.

Travelling around Poland is a disadvantage due to it having “poor road standards” in general with a “lack of pedestrian facilities.” (EuroRap, 2015) Figure 7 shows the risk of the road system over the whole of Poland, where an experiment was carried out between 2010 and 2012. It's clear there are a lot of roads with high risks. (EuroRap, 2015) An opportunity for Poland would be to improve its road standards to ensure there are less risks of collision.

Figure 7. Risks on the Roads of Poland. (EuroRap, 2015)

Thinking of Holding a Cultural Festival in Poland?

When holding any type of event in Poland, it should fit in with the culture of the country. Involving the history of World War 2 would be beneficial to make the world aware of how the country has built its reputation up. Polish cuisine would also be a good way to improve tourists' knowledge of the culture. Polish cuisine involves prawns in cream and “the classics like Steak Tatare, herring served with a shot of iced vodka…” (Polska, 2016d)

The time of the festival is important to consider because it needs to be in tourism season where tourist numbers are high. This will attract large numbers of tourism because they will be looking for a place to travel or vacate to in their spare time.

The place of the festival should either be in a place where there are vast numbers of tourists, or low numbers of tourists. In 2015, it was recorded that the Malopolskie province had the highest numbers of tourists. (Central Statistical Office of Poland, 2016, 240) This would be beneficial to further increase numbers. However, it may also be beneficial to hold a cultural festival in Opolskie, where it had the lowest number of tourists in 2015. (Central Statistical Office of Poland, 2016, 240) This would help boost tourism and get more income generating.

"...tourists can penetrate the secrets of nature and enjoy the richness of Polish culture in various types of sceneries located across the country..." (Polska, 2016c)

Conclusion

Poland is a country worth visiting or even to be the venue for holding a cultural festival. With modern buildings, various sceneries and distinctive attractions throughout the city, Poland can show its culture off to tourists and prove how it's possible to develop new life from the ruins that were left in 1945. It's easy for tourists to get involved with the culture of Poland by getting involved with The Jewish Culture Festival and being the European City of Culture 2016.

Reference List

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Created By
Melanie Towning
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Created with images by kishjar? - "Rooftops" • Free Grunge Textures - www.freestock.ca - "Poland Grunge Flag" • skeeze - "bull moose male wildlife" • RonPorter - "birkenau auschwitz concentration" • Hans - "egg colorful easter eggs" • tpsdave - "poland landscape tree line" • waldomiguez - "auschwitz camp poland" • erwinbauer - "gdańsk poland gdansk" • DrabikPany - "Euro 2012" • Sabine_Bends - "houses rynek wroclaw" • bogo8060 - "poland ostpreußen masuria"

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