As part of the Polish Presidency of the Visegrad Group, on 17 and 18 June the Polish Tourism Organisation (POT) organised the Discover Central Europe Trade Online Workshop for the tourism industry of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The main topics were active tourism products and trips to less well-known towns.
The meeting was opened by POT President Rafał Szlachta, who shared the good news that Polish tourism was opening up and that Poland’s sanitary situation was optimistic. He also underlined the importance of the Visegrad Group countries’ cooperation, whose advantages include the possibility of designing joint package products for tourists from Western Europe. Such measures mean that Central Europe will be visited by more tourists from the Netherlands. In Szlachta’s view, new projects in the post-pandemic period should focus on offering stays amid nature as well as those involving active tourism. “The diversity of our countries makes them very interesting and powerful tourism players, while their good cooperation enables us to carry out promotional tasks better”, the POT president concluded.
Before industry talks began, Poland, Hungary, Czechia and Slovakia gave 10-minute presentations on their particular tourism offering and current sanitary situation, describing some less famous tourist attractions, active tourism, and post-pandemic tourism. The speakers were: Dominika Szulc, director of the POT International Offices in Brussels and Amsterdam; Ivan Ljubinkovic, Visit Hungary director for the Benelux markets, France and the Balkans; Petra Koorn Palečková, director of CzechTourism Benelux; and Miriam Benčíková, director of Slovakia Travel. The meeting was moderated by a major figure on the Dutch tourism market, Marcel Baltus from PR Baltus Communications, the company which also handled media support for the workshop.
The workshop began at an exceptionally good time for Poland: on the day when the Dutch Health Ministry marked our country as a green zone, which in practice means that all restrictions on travel have been lifted, there is no mandatory testing and no quarantine upon returning.
The one-and-a-half-day-long event brought in 70 industry businesses as participants, including the national tourism organisations of the Visegrad Group countries, hotels, tour operators and travel agents. A total of 288 meetings took place and 415 chat messages were exchanged.
Poland was represented by the travel agencies Furnel Travel International, Jan-Pol Active, 4Travel, and Poland Tour. These are tour operators that have shown the strongest activity on the Dutch market in recent months. The participants also included Polski Holding Hotelowy and two regional tourism organisations: the Lower Silesian Tourism Organisation and the Wielkopolska Tourism Organisation. From the Dutch side, the participants in the talks included ANWB Reizen, OAD Reizen, ACSI Touroperating, Vacanceselect, Polen Reizen which specialises in the Polish market, the International Hotel Reservation Centre, and smaller tour operators and travel agents specialising in tailor-made trips.
Monika Dąbrowska from Furnel Travel International spoke highly of the quality of Poland’s webinar presentation before the table talks. “The presentation was excellent and responded to current questions voiced by international agents interested in putting together suggestions for clients asking about trips that comply with sustainable tourism guidelines”, she commented.
This particular tour operator also praised the optimal use of time, of the fact that Poland was presented as the first country, and also the opportunity to contact other “sellers” from Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary. Despite the absence of some of the market’s biggest tour operators, Furnel Travel International thought the meeting was interesting, as it “enabled us to gain a new perspective on current market needs and determine what it is that Dutch and Belgian tour operators or smaller independent travel agents are looking for”.
The workshop also got positive marks from the V4 group partners. “I really like the idea behind the workshop”, said Miriam Benčíková from Slovakia Travel. “A joint presentation by the V4 countries is natural due to their proximity to one another, and is a great idea for tourists. Networkapp is an effective and professional tool offering the perfect meeting mode at a time when meeting in person is restricted. We have gained a lot from meeting with partners from other countries and the Dutch industry”, she added.
The workshop was accompanied by a promotional campaign run by the POT International Office (ZOPOT) in Amsterdam in association with TravMedia media house, which includes the specialist trade magazines TravMagazine and TravelPro, targeted at tour operators and travel agents. The campaign reached more than 8,500 professionals in the Netherlands. It promoted the workshop as well as tourist attractions in the V4 countries. Banners and articles were published in the media, and the Dutch industry received invitations and newsletters encouraging participation in the Discover Central Europe workshop. Promotional content was also published on the biggest sector portal in the Benelux – Travel360Benelux, on the LinkedIn profiles of ZOPOT Amsterdam and ZOPOT Brussels, and in numerous press releases produced by Baltus Communications.