Poland to involve private sector in tourism promotion

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NEW YORK -- Poland is planning to scrap its government tourist office in favor of a national tourism organization with broad participation from the private sector -- a move that could lead to more North American offices, a top government official said.

Gwidon Wojcik, deputy minister at the Warsaw-based State Sports and Tourism Administration of Poland, announced here that plans are being finalized for the new tourism apparatus, and it should be created within the next year or so. The funding for the nation's new tourism promotional organization will come "partly from the [federal] government, but the major part will come from the private sector and from local governments within Poland," Wojcik said.

He added that by consolidating these various sources of funding into a single effort, Poland should be able to promote itself as a destination more efficiently than it does now.

According to Wojcik, the new tourism organization will be run not by government bureaucrats but by "professionals from the tourism field." He said that once the new structure is in operation, Poland expects to open new tourism promotion offices in Los Angeles and Toronto to supplement its existing New York office. Even higher priority is being given to opening new offices in Moscow and Tokyo, Wojcik said.

In other news, the deputy minister said Poland is expecting "several million" visitors to the city of Krakow during 2000, which was designated a holy year by the Pope.

A series of special events will be held in and around the city that year, and preparations are under way to accommodate a larger than usual influx of tourists, he said. "Older hotels are being modernized and upgraded, and private pensions are being built," Wojcik said.

Moreover, he said the Tishman Corp., a large U.S. construction company, has won a contract to build a large commercial complex in downtown Krakow featuring two hotels, a convention center and a retail mall. Also in the works are plans for a direct rail link between the city's airport and downtown, he said.

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