Polish Tourism Organisation officially appoints new President

The Polish Tourism Organisation has appointed Rafał Szlachta, an economic tourism expert, entrepreneur, and political diplomat as their new President
The appointment will see the Polish Tourism Organisation move in a new direction, led by the Polish diplomat, businessman and an international ambassador for tourism and sports.

Holding the position of Director of the Department of Tourism in Poland’s Ministry of Economic Development until January 2020, Mr Szlachta was responsible for the direction of the department’s operations. He also supervised the implementation of Polish tourism promotional activities in both the domestic and global markets.

Mr Szlachta co-created support instruments put in place by the Polish government to help protect and re-stimulate its tourism industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This included launching the successful domestic tourist voucher scheme and the recently implemented ‘tourism shield’. He has previously owned his own tourism business and organised leisure activities for children and young people.

Mr Szlachta on the Polish Tourism Organisation’s new strategy: “The Polish Tourism Organisation needs to become a modern marketing agency that responds quickly to ongoing changes in the tourism industry. Promoting Poland abroad is our key priority, in addition to supporting business affected by the pandemic.”

“I will be supporting the implementation of new technology into our digital marketing strategy because this is our future. My goal is to increase our annual budget so that we are able to compete with our counterparts across Central Europe and beyond.”

“I will advocate for extending the holiday voucher scheme here in Poland, and I’m going to support social tourism. I want to fight social, financial and age exclusion, as tourism should be available to everyone.”

Mr Szlachta on the UK tourism market: “The UK market has always been dear to us and is now one of our top markets in Europe. From year to year, we have noticed an increase in travellers coming from Great Britain.”

“They start their adventure by visiting well known Polish cities like Warsaw or Krakow, then they move further afield and discover our more under-the-radar cities such as Wroclaw, Poznan or Gdansk. These destinations have become more popular amongst people who like to experience an urban holiday with nearby eco-experiences, such as the Kashubian region.”

“Before the pandemic we noticed over 500,000 Brits coming to Poland every year. Even this year, as the tourist industry was hit by COVID-19 and borders were closed, we still welcomed over 150,000 Brits from January to August. It shows that despite the ongoing pandemic, Brits are still keen to travel, and they are keen to travel to Poland.”

“Over the last month, we have been running numerous digital campaigns aiming to build Poland’s brand profile and push bookings. This approach has allowed us to not only build up the current image of Poland as one of Europe’s most desirable travel destinations but also to encourage the British to add Poland to their 2021 bucket travel list.”

Mr Szlachta on travelling to Poland in 2021: “At the moment it is too early to say how the pandemic has affected the tourism industry in terms of the customer behaviours in the long term. What we’re seeing currently is the polarization of behaviours, with some people wanting to travel despite the ongoing pandemic and others who don’t wish to travel at all.”

“We want to build our 2021 marketing strategy on the hybrid concept of our cities. Our cities have plenty of open green spaces to relax and unwind in, providing a welcome contrast to the lively streets, amazing architecture and complex culinary scene that surrounds them.”

“Warsaw, for instance, is one of the greenest cities in the world. There are loads of parks as well as two large forests that border the city, the Kubacki Forest and Kampinos National Park. 30% of Lodz is covered with green spaces, Poznań has a huge lake, not to mention Gdansk and its neighbouring sandy beaches. This hybrid style found within and around Poland’s cities, combined with our famous hospitality, makes Poland a must-visit in 2021 and beyond.”

Mr Szlachta graduated from the Faculty of Tourism and Leisure at the University of Physical Education in Kraków. He holds a postgraduate degree in Public Administration and Local Government and in 2019 he started a PhD dissertation at the University of Warsaw’s Faculty of Management. He is also a fluent speaker of English and Russian.

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