These types of trips accounted for 33% in 2004, a major increase since 2002, when they only accounted for 17% in all international trips. Finally, the third most common stimulus for trips abroad was that of visiting family and friends. In 2002, the rate of these trips was of 28%, but by 2004 it had declined to 22%.
Another trend obvious in the past recent years is that of Polish tourists visiting destinations considered untraditional so far. This is generally the result of intensified marketing efforts and the most relevant example in this sense is the still growing number of Polish individuals traveling to the African countries, namely Kenya. Also, the results are due to a long historical relationship between Poland and Kenya, basically the fact that Poland has offered scholarships to the Kenyan students and that they have also helped defend the British territories in Kenya against Germany, during WWII. "Mr. Reshadi Noor, the honorary consul of the Republic of Poland in Mombassa, said no Polish tourists visited Kenya before the collapse of communism but the trend had now been reversed, with more than 100 visitors coming to Mombassa every week" (Polonia Global Fund, 2002).
The increasing trend in trips is, amongst other things, due to the liberalization of markets, the opening of boundaries, and the improvements in infrastructure. Poland has commenced its efforts to improving its roadway connections to the countries in the European Union, but a positive result will be delayed by the complexity of the work and the resources it requires. In terms of railways however, the country has undergone major improvements and is dedicated to continuing this path. A most relevant example in this sense is given by the increasing number of trips to Germany. This can be explained by the fact that tourists now find it easier to get from Warszawa (Poland's capital) to Berlin. "The number of air, rail and sea connections with abroad has gone up. Warszawa - Berlin travel abroad a comfortable train takes six hours, and like other connections, it will be even shorter in a few years time" (Service de la Promotion du Commerce et des Investissements).
An interesting feature to observe is that the Polish tourism agencies have made increased efforts to attract the population and offer them tourist packages for both domestic and international traveling. A study conducted on these promotions retrieved the following findings:
the Polish consumer is more opened to communications with the tourist agents than it was initially believed; the agents are however unprepared and insufficiently trained to develop and sustain such communications the agents are primarily focused on increasing their sales, rather than supporting domestic and international trips of Polish individuals the promotions are aimed to achieve a one time sale and fail to turn the one time consumer into a loyal client the promotional activities of the tourism agencies were generalist and failed to address the needs and requirements of the individual consumers market research was not conducted and the individuals had no say in the formation of the traveling packages agencies have limited access and knowledge on how to use marketing tools and techniques to attract customers the promotions were not coordinated, integrated and they were often even illogical the agencies rarely have the ability to keep the promises they make during promotional sales (Thomas and Augustyn, 2006)
Based on the analyses and research conducted, it has been revealed that the Polish tourists to both domestic and international locations are interested in the following tourist packages: sightseeing, pilgrimage, music, cultural, eco and incentive package tours (Thomas and Augustyn, 2006).
Melanie Smith and Mike Robinson (2006) observe that cultural traveling is most common among youth and the Polish population over the age of 40. The income and occupation of the visitors does not impact the locations Poles visit when on vacation. The motivations of the Polish tourists to both domestic and global locations have been comparatively analyzed in 1997 and 2001 and the findings are revealed in the table below:
Source: Smith and Robinson
In terms of the amounts of money Polish individuals spend on their travels, the findings indicate rather reduced sums. In this instance, most travelers spend less than 500 zloty on a trip, less than $170. "In 2001, an average monthly salary amounted to approximately 2045.11 zl (about $670) and an average monthly disposable income (for 1 person) to 620.44 zl (about 205). These numbers bring into sharp focus the economic situation of the average Polish cultural tourist" (Smith and Robinson, 2006). The table below reveals the tourist spending relative to the purpose of spending:
Source: Smith and Robinson
4. Final Remarks
The forces of globalization have impacted all features of the everyday life, including the traveling habits. And this is not only true for highly developed economies, but also for the individuals living in emergent economies. Poland is a relevant example in this sense. The central European country has been the onset of a tumultuous history, but nowadays, it seems to be regaining its socio-economic stability. Due to various economic reforms and the liberalization of markets, the country has managed to stabilize its inflation rate and has been following an ascendant trend in terms of gross domestic product. The developments made in infrastructure support both industrial developments, as well as leisure activities, such as traveling.
Just like its history, the Polish traveler has been forced to adjust to several modifications in the contemporary environment. With a greater focus on career, the Polish individual tends to travel less for leisure and more for business purposes. The main destinations include the European countries, those which are the country's trade partners, with the exception of the United States, Egypt and more recently, Kenya. The Polish individual also travels less to visit his family or friends who live abroad. The statistics reveal a dynamic domestic tourism, with fluctuating increases and decreases. International trips however are more stable.
Ultimately, the touristy behavior of Polish individuals is directly dependent on the country's socio-economic development and the growth of the touristy sector (both domestic and international) depends on the society's take on touristy consumption. All findings relative to the Polish tourists and their revealed trends indicate that they are undergoing a process of change and are adapting to the changing features of the national and global market. Best put by Rhodri Thomas and Marcjanna Augustyn, "the evolution of tourism consumption in Poland is also characterized by a gradual move from traditional tourism to contemporary tourism. [...] the traditional model of tourism is characterized by group traveling, passivity of tourists, focus on the quantity rather than the quality of trips, lack of preparation and knowledge about the culture and tourist attractions of the visited areas, lack of adjustment to the lifestyles of local communities in visited areas, noisiness of tourists, inability to speak the language of the visited country, curiosity, expectation of comfort and fast means of transport. In contrast, the contemporary model of tourism is characterized by individual traveling, longer holidays, making several trips a year, making individual and spontaneous itinerary decisions, undertaking physical activity, expecting high quality of the tourist experience, interest in acquiring knowledge of the destination visited, adopting the lifestyle of the visited population, desire for calmness rather than comfort, buying small personal souvenirs and gifts and reducing the speed of moving around."
Ebrill, L.P., 1994, Poland: The Path to a Market Economy, International Monetary Fund