Jean-Philippe Savoye, formerly of hotel chain Orbis, talks to WBJ.pl about the evolution of the sector in the last decade and what needs to be done to attract more visitors
, until June 30 the CEO and president of the management board at hotel chain Orbis
, has been in Poland since 1998.
says the number of tourists has shrunk almost by half since then.
"When I arrived in Poland, there were around 20 million tourists.
Today we stand at around 13 million and the number of hotels has doubled over the same period," he
The country's own historical and political evolution, he
explains, is responsible for this transformation.
"Added up, this shrunk significantly the number of tourists in Poland, and I don't know if we will ever see these numbers again," said Mr Savoye
The company was well-inspired it seems, to concentrate on internal tourism, which amounted to almost 30 million people in 2008.
However, if Poland's recent history has turned the country towards the West and lowered the number of Eastern European tourists, why were these not replaced by Western European tourists?
According to Mr Savoye, the problem lies in poor road infrastructure for Western Europeans coming into Poland.
"The day when it's possible [for Western Europeans to drive comfortably to tourist destinations in Poland], we will be able to develop this tourism.
Because there are plenty of things to see in Poland, it's true, but you have to get there, and get there within a reasonable amount of time and with good safety conditions."
Although it is now possible to get "normally" to Wroc³aw and Poznañ from Germany, and this will undoubtedly have an effect, the Mazowieckie and Pomorskie regions unfortunately remain far away destinations, he
Having squandered opportunities to invest in infrastructure before its entry to the EU
, Mr Savoye
says Poland is now being forced to make up for lost time.
"When Hungary and the Czech Republic joined the EU
they had already completed a good part of their road infrastructure, while in Poland in 12 years maybe 600 km of motorways were built.
Fortunately, this is changing," concluded Mr Savoye