Tourism is a crucial area of economic and social activities. Touristic activity is one of the ways of measuring the living status of the citizens; it is also an indicator of the civilizational development of the societies. The development of tourism is a significant impulse, boosting the social and economic growth of the country. Its meaning is reflected in a high ability to generate new workplaces, raise the quality of life of the local societies or make certain regions more competitive. Simultaneously, tourism contributes to exploring the most precious cultural and natural goods, which exposition improves both the local and international image of Poland, particular regions and cities.
Tourism is considered to be one of the fastest – developing branches of economy, which is confirmed by the statistics of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). According to that data, there is constant increase in both the numbers of tourists as well as in the profits gained. That is why more and more countries become involved in development of tourism and similar areas.
With each passing year, Poland is becoming an increasingly desired country for tourists. There is a constant growth in tourist traffic, both foreign and – what is more important – local one. These statistic include not just the business travels, but also tourist one, indicating about an increase in the middle-class society. Tourists seem to be fond of using the hotel accommodation of a high standard while being on holidays. Average occupancy rate of hotels in big cities of Poland reaches about 50% (and even 70% in the immediate surroundings of the airports).
One of the positive aspects of Polish accession to European Union was the acceleration of the tourism development. What is more, joining The Schengen Area in 2007 also changed a lot. As the necessity of border control disappeared, travelling to Poland became much easier for all citizens of EU.
Favorable geographical position of Poland also plays significant role in tourism fostering. Country’s millennial history, which left great number of antiquities, terrains, afflicted by wars that took place on this territory, attracts great numbers of visitors and travelers from all around Europe every year. In addition to that, the country is also famous with its beautiful and breathtaking nature. In fact, there are mountain areas in Poland, which can serve as a perfect place for active recreation during the wintertime. Seaside almost ideal for summer relaxation and the primeval forests, with their exceptional flora and fauna, huge amount of lakes and desert terrains can be found rarely in the world. However, modern and constantly developing urban centers can also offer tourists many interesting activities. It is really difficult to get bored in Poland. Abundant and fast transport system allows everyone move through Poland and travel abroad easily. These features make Poland attractive place for sightseeing, tourism, rest and every way of spending free time and other ways of spending free time for considerably lower prices, than in other parts of Europe.
According to the data from the last years, the number of foreign tourists visiting Poland has increased up to 16 million. Most of them come from Germany; moreover, double-digit growth in travels was reported in case of tourists from Sweden (16 %), Belgium (17 %), Norway (17 %), Lithuania (16 %) and Portugal (27 %). Great increase was observed in the amount of Chinese travelers, which reached a point of about 28 %. In the third quarter of 2015 estimated number of crossing Polish border reached 76,7 million, from which 44,1 million crossings were made by foreigners (57,6% at all) and 32,5 million by Polish citizens (42,4%). About 74,5% of crossings were made through Polish land border with other countries of European Union, 12,9% - air border and 0,9% - maritime one. Most of the tourists used to cross Polish border with Germany (44,0% of the general number of crossings Polish border in the third quarter of 2015), then with Czech Republic (22,8%), Slovakia (14,4%), Ukraine (9,0%), Belarus (3,3%), Lithuania (3,1%) and Russia (2,5%).1
Following the GUS (Central Statistical Office of Poland) data, estimated value of commodities and services purchased in Poland by foreigners (not-residents) in the third quarter of 2015 constituted PLN 10,5 billion and outgoings made by Polish people while being abroad – PLN 6,4 billion. The foreigners’ expenses were about 0,7% higher than at the same period of 2014 and Polish ones – approximately 1,5% higher.
Estimated value of goods and services bought by foreigners crossing Polish land border with the EU was equal to about PLN 2,7 billion only in the third quarter of 2015.
Since 2013, in Poland can be observed growing number of hotel services provided. In 2014 the demand raised by 1.5%, which was measured by the number of provided accommodation from the overall sum in the EU. The stake of accommodations that foreign tourists used reached more than 90% in case of Malta, Cyprus and Croatia, in Romania and Poland it was not higher than 20%. The indicator of the level of using accommodations in hotels and similar places in Poland was 34,7% in 2014 and stayed the same as in Hungary, Luxembourg and Czech Republic, but was definitely lower than in the countries of Southern Europe, such as Malta (68,3%), Cyprus (61,6%), Spain (55,7%) and Croatia (52,7%), where tourist season lasts much longer than on the north.2
Index of using the available accommodation keeps improving every year, which encourages investing in this branch of market. These types of investments are quite specific because of their limited risk. They also allow Poland to generate relatively high income.
The value of the world’s market of the health tourism is estimated at the level of USD 188 billion every year. According to the forecasts, some markets of developing countries expect even 20% growth. Global market of the health tourism is still developing – in 2012 its value reached USD 100 million. For Poland there were more than PLN 800 million for many different touristic and health services, which were left here by foreign tourists.
In short time Poland has become an important place for the acceleration of the world’s health tourism. One may venture to say that in the nearest future Poland may become a leader in the Middle-Eastern Europe, despite the fact that it nowadays remains almost at the forefront within the entire Europe. It is not a surprise, as Poland is a great country that favorably differentiates from other European states by various opportunities for development. American interest in Polish implanthologists can serve a good example of this tendency. Having recognized country’s huge potential, Americans enabled Polish dentists to take part in certain training courses of implanthology at the New York University. Foreigners come to Poland because of dental treatments, plastic surgery; orthopedics, eye surgery, cardio surgery, aesthetic surgery and rehabilitation.
Health tourism in Poland, in the international and especially EU area, has a great potential to develop. Medical staff, high quality and standard of treatment are our edge in the international market of medical services. In Polish clinics, modern medical equipment is used and all of the treatments are provided on the highest level.
The main reason of such an attractiveness of Poland’s medical treatment offer is the correlation of a low cost and high-quality services. Very often the prices of diagnostics and medical treatment in Poland are 60-80% lower than in other EU countries, the United States or Canada; some of these services are not even available for the citizens of some countries. By now, Poland has hosted patients mostly from the UK, France, Germany, USA, Canada, Scandinavia, Austria and Czech Republic. It is estimated that since Poland’s accession to EU 450.000, patients from all over the world have visited it.
Polish spas providing opportunities of visiting progressive medical centers, equipped with professional technologies; institutions of natural treatment with attractive facilities. Medical offer of Salt Mine “Wieliczka” is exceptional in the world scale. The spa stands out from other ones because of the fact it provides innovative rehabilitation and cure of the respiratory system ailments, following the best standards of contemporary medicine with use of natural microclimate of the underground salt chambers, which cannot be reconstructed on the surface of the Earth.
In fact, on the 29th of March 2012 Ministry of Economy signed the agreement for realization of the program which is thought to promote health tourism. This program had established 18 promoting activities for businessmen who would have accessed it after the 1st of June 2013. The project, which was launched on the 29th of March 2012, works on supporting Polish companies, while inventing and implementing unitary conception of promoting Polish health services and medical tourism. Certain activities of the consortium are thought to grab the attention of patients from Great Britain, USA, Germany, Norway, Denmark and Sweden and encourage them to visit touristic regions of Poland with respect to health tourism and medicine.
The representatives of Polish health centers, who take part in the project, got involved in some international conferences, markets and exhibitions, training courses and trade missions. Promoting activities were to point the actual status and perspectives of the medical tourism sector, as well as the medicine in Poland. What is important, the project has not been finished yet and for sure will have significant influence on creating the image of Poland as a worth-visiting place.
Touristic attractiveness of our country, professionalism, high quality of medical services and support from the agencies of the public administration and local governments confirm the benefits from locating the capital in the health tourism in Poland. Horse breeding
Horse breeding is a type of investment, aiming at acquisition of the thoroughbred horses of both physical and psychological values. In order to gain as good breeding effects as possible, appropriate selection within certain breed, creating optimal conditions for right growth and congruous maintenance are necessary. In fact, there is no need to present the breeding of Polish Arab horses, as they are appreciated and renowned all over the world.
Polish breeding, as the only one in the world, has a real chance to beat the Middle-East studs. The stud in Janow Podlaski became a synonym of a role model (the Arab horse). However, there are many other studs and private breeders in Poland. Those animals have achieved successes on the international arena over the past few years and the number of champions amount more than 500. There are many exhibitions, competitions and auctions organized in Poland. The most important ones take place of course in Janow Podlaski. “The Days of Arab Horse” including the auction “Pride of Poland” and “Polish National Show of Thoroughbred Arab Horses” or “Sport Masters Arab Horses of Europe” are well known events all over the world, attracting the most eminent guests connected with art, culture, business or politics. Polish state-owned studs with their two hundred years tradition of horse breeding, dispose genetic material of a great potential. Merchants from all over the world can be sure that the animals they intend to buy in Poland, possess genes of the finest line of ancestors.
For the last years, more and more aficionados of Arab horses from Poland have taken part in different auctions. Private breeders often buy almost ideal horses from the state-owned studs and also successfully sell their animals. In the lineages’ database of Janow Podlaski, 52000 genealogies of Arab horses can be found. This stud was formed in 1817, survived two wars and rough history of Poland. Since 1927, the stud has been organizing the races of Arab horses – the most important test for breeders. Not only the exhibition value is important , but also the maintaining of the original fighting character of the animal.
The Arab horses from Polish studs are perceived as the most valuable ones in the world. The record-breaking price was paid for the mare from the stud in Janow Podlaski – „Pepita”, which was sold to a merchant from Switzerland for EUR 1.400.000. The second highest amount auctioned dates back to 2008 and constituted EUR 1.125.000 that was paid for the mare „Kwestura”. 24 Polish Arab horses were sold during the auction “Pride of Poland” and went to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain and Czech Republic.
The first documented breeder of thoroughbred horses in Poland was King Zygmunt August (1520-1572). The stud was located in Knyszyn, today’s Bialystok. The first authentic Arabian horses were brought to the Polish equerry by Cajetan Burski. Then, there have been organized many expeditions into the desert within several generations. At the beginning of the 19th century, Arabian horses were grown in Poland massively. Merchants imported horses to Istanbul or Odessa, and on request to the studs. Among them were distinguished the studs of Branicki family in the White Church (and related to it provinces) in Ukraine, the stud of Sanguszko family in Sławuta in Volyn, Waclaw Rzewuski family in Sawran, Podol, Dzieduszyckis family in Jarczowcach and Jezupolu in Malopolska Voivodeship.
1. Central Statistical Office „Boarder traffic and foreigners’ expen¬ses in Poland”.
2. Central Statistical Office – “Tourism in European Union”.