In 2018, the total value of the tourism economy in Poland was estimated at PLN 124.6 billion - a rise of 6.8% over 2017. This equates to an estimated contribution of 6.0% to Poland’s GDP (direct and indirect impact). In 2018, 195 675 people were employed in the accommodation and catering sector, an increase of 1.0% compared to 2017. Travel exports represented 20.3% of total service exports in 2018.

International arrivals increased by 2.6% to 85.9 million visits although this figure includes a substantial number of day visitors. There were 19.6 million international tourist arrivals, showing an increase of 7.5% over 2017, and setting a new record for Poland. Germany remains the largest source market, accounting for 34.2% of international tourist arrivals. This is followed by Ukraine (10.4%), and then the United Kingdom and Lithuania (both respectively accounting for 4.7% of inbound tourists). Compared to 2017, international tourism receipts increased by 2.9% to reach PLN 61.1 billion in 2018, accounting for 5.2% of total export earnings.

The number of domestic tourists totalled 47.7 million in 2018, an increase of 3.9% compared to 2017. The majority of domestic trips (60.6%) were short visits of between two and four days. Compared to 2017, revenues from domestic tourism increased by 14.5%, reaching PLN 27.7 billion in 2018.

Since November 2019, tourism is within the scope of the Minister of Economic Development. The Ministry is responsible for all tourism-related matters, including the management and regulation of tourism. Legislation within the competence of the Ministry in the field of tourism administration includes the 2017 Act on package travel, the 2010 regulation relating to hotel classification, the 2004 regulation relating to hotel and other accommodation facilities, the 1999 Act establishing the Polish Tourism Organisation and its implementing regulations, and the 1997 Act on accommodation services and services of tour leaders and tourist guides.

The Ministry also supervises the Polish Tourism Organisation which is responsible for the marketing and promotion of Poland as a tourist destination, carrying out statistical and marketing analyses, and ensuring the development and operation of the Polish tourist information system. The organisation has 14 international offices located in established and emerging source markets and co-operates with regional and local tourist organisations as well as others involved in the promotion and development of tourism at the regional level.

At sub-national level, the primary role in tourism development is played by regional governments as well as local governments, at county and municipal level. Local or regional level tasks fall into two groups: the public sector tasks not allocated to other bodies under relevant legislation; and tasks commissioned by the National Government.

Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) are organisations within which co-operation is conducted between the local government (particularly at the voivoship, i.e. province level) and the tourism industry particularly in the field of consumer marketing and promotion of the geographic area covered by the organisation’s activities, both in the country and abroad. An RTO has the legal status of an association. As well as promotion, its roles typically include supporting the operation and development of tourist information systems, initiating, assessing and supporting tourism infrastructure development and modernisation plans, and co-operation with the Polish Tourism Organisation.

At the local level, there are about 120 local tourism organisations. Commissioned tasks include the classification of local hotel facilities, the supervision and registration of companies and entrepreneurs operating as travel agents or tour operators as well as the registration of other specific trades, such as mountain guides.

In 2018, the tourism budget amounted to PLN 60.9 million, including the budget for the Polish Tourism Organisation of PLN 49.5 million. In addition, in the years 2014-2020, specific tourism sector projects were supported by EU structural funds. The budget has increased year on year and has seen an overall increase of 26.9% since 2014. According to the draft 2020 budget, the allocation for Tourism is PLN 61 million together with PLN 181 000 from EU project funding.

The main objective of Poland’s national tourism policy is to strengthen the development of a competitive and innovative tourism sector by supporting organisations and initiatives in the tourism sector, while respecting the principles of sustainable development. The approach focuses on a competitive and innovative tourism, modern tourism management systems, and training in occupations related to the tourism industry.

Operational goals are defined in the Programme for Tourism Development until 2020. In 2018, the Ministry of Sport and Tourism initiated the Polish Tourist Brands project. The main objective is to identify, build and bring to market leading offers from outstanding Polish tourism brands. The approach aims to encourage more proactive marketing and management of tourist destinations. It also helps to increase the effectiveness of marketing messages and raises the profile of diverse regional tourism destinations, encouraging visitors to explore wider and extend their stay. The ultimate aim of the project is the development of coherent tourism regions and unified tourism routes with individually strong brands, each of which provides a specific marketing umbrella for tourism operators from any given area. Thanks to the implementation of the Polish Tourist Brand project the Polish Tourism Organisation now has a suite of new products to highlight a wide range of Polish tourist regions, attractive to different types of visitors.

An important project initiated by the Ministry of Sport and Tourism is the Poland See More domestic tourism campaign. Currently delivered by the Polish Tourism Organisation in co-operation with the Ministry, the campaign presents a nationwide offer and encourages residents to take advantage of attractions and tourist services throughout the country, particularly in the shoulder seasons. In 2018, nearly 300 000 destinations benefited from the spring and autumn campaigns. Participants can benefit from discounts of at least 50% from a variety of the offers registered at the campaign’s website, and this has stimulated incremental domestic tourism growth of wide benefit to the tourism industry.

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