NEW YORK -- Selling Poland often involves combating its image as a
dark, monotonous place, according to Zbigniew Wegiel, president of
American Travel Abroad, based here, and Ingrid Bolski, manager of
the operator's Poland department.
That outdated notion is easily dispelled, however, by touting
the country's unknown advantages, the operator said. American
Travel Abroad sent about 45,000 clients to Poland last year, a
number that has increased by 10% to 15% each year for the past
several years, Wegiel said.
Following are some of the operator's key selling points:Clients might not be aware of Poland's warmth toward Americans.
The Poles don't have a "Yankee go home" attitude, Bolski said.
"They love Americans, because so many Poles have emigrated to the
U.S."Dining in Poland is cheaper than in most European countries.
Most of the bargains are found outside the major cities of Warsaw
and Krakow, however, where restaurants can be as pricey as New York
eateries. Meal tabs at roadside diners -- where travelers can dine
on potato pancakes with sour cream -- and country inns are
"unbelievably low," Bolski said. In Zakopane, a mountain resort
town in the south, restaurant prices are 30% cheaper than in
Warsaw, she noted.Wegiel touted the city of Krakow as a destination that
represented a new and more vibrant Poland. Unlike Warsaw, Krakow
escaped the destruction of World War II -- its Old Town Square
dates to 1257. Restaurants are found in ancient cellars filled with
paintings, said Wegiel, who compared the city to Vienna. Next year,
the city will take the spotlight as one of nine European Cultural
Capitals.Ecotourism is becoming a vital part of Poland's economy. The
Mazurian Lake District, a summer resort in the north, is emerging
as a hot tourist destination, Bolski said. Many travelers combine
this area, a complex of 30 lakes, with trips to nearby Lithuania
and Latvia.Poland's travel infrastructure is on its way to matching that
of its Western neighbors, a point Polish tourism officials have
been promoting during the past two years. Modern trains, roads and
hotels have lured more travelers to forgo escorted tours and
explore Poland on their own. Independent travelers can find their
way around the nation's cities, as many Poles -- especially the
younger set -- speak English, Wegiel said. "Even the maids in
hotels speak English," he added.
Pope to Poland
NEW YORK -- Pope John Paul II will visit 20 Polish cities June 5
to 17. The Pope's eighth trip to Poland will begin in Gdansk and
end in Krakow, where he served as a bishop in the 1960s and '70s
before moving to the Vatican in 1978. In Warsaw, the Pope plans to
pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust at the Umschlagplatz