War in Ukraine dampens Polish tourism - needlessly, many say

Heading into the last month of the summer travel season, tourism in Poland is down significantly amid concerns about whether the ongoing war in neighboring Ukraine is affecting Poland’s safety.

Those concerns, tourism officials as well as locals say, are unfounded.

“It’s true, (tourism) is down,” says Joanna Pietrazk, who owns a restaurant in Krakow’s Kazimierz district. However, she adds, “You will see it is safe.”  Local tour guide Andrew Durman agrees. “Life goes on as usual in Poland,” he said in an email. “People are going about their lives.”

Factors depressing tourism include Poland’s well-publicized acceptance of Ukrainian refugees. According to the most recent numbers, Poland has taken in about three million refugees, adding less than 10 percent to the country’s total population of more than 37 million. Many of those refugees are in the larger cities like Warsaw and Krakow, which are better equipped to provide the needed services than much smaller border towns.

A representative of the Polish National Tourist Office confirms that the situation in Poland is stable and safe. Public transportation runs on schedule, and tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, etc., remain open.

Trams in Krakow

“The initial influx of Ukrainian war refugees at the beginning of the Russian invasion caused some concern and alarm, especially along the Poland-Ukraine border crossings,” the representative said in response to an inquiry from TheTravelPro. “However, right now, you would be hard-pressed to observe any noticeable impact stemming from the conflict.”

Because some refugees are staying in hotels, accommodations are a bit more challenging to find and prices are somewhat higher than in the past, but it is far from impossible. In fact, I was able to identify and book a hotel for an upcoming three-week visit to Krakow with little difficulty.

Travelers to Poland will also find some advantages, including the strength of the U.S. dollar and Euro relative to the Polish Złoty (PLN; pronounced "ZWO-tay"). As of this writing, US$1 equals 4.65 and €1 equals 4.73 PLN. 

“(That) means that our goods and services are cheap, even (significantly) cheaper than in the other European countries where they use Euro,” according to Zenon Znamirowsli, CEO of the Polish genealogy website Polish Origins.

Polish Złoty

For example, a room at a three-star hotel in Krakow, which is part of the Hilton chain, can be booked for PLN244, or US$52.40 per night; a real deal when compared to hotel rates elsewhere in Europe.

Chair memorial in Krakow

There is much to see and do in Poland and, with the decline in visitors this year, there will be fewer fellow travelers. For examples of sights and attractions, I have provided links to my posts from my previous trip to Poland here:

The author inside the Wieliczka Salt Mine

Four-part Poland Travel Guide: 

If you've ever had an interest in visiting Poland, now may be just the right time. Bon voyage!

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photos by Carl Dombek
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