Incoming travel industry under pressure till next June: expert

Polish travel hotspots will not likely see an improvement in tourist numbers till mid 2021, TravelDATA chairman Andrzej Betlej told Rzeczpospolita daily.

“The prospects for Poland are not so bad, as there are fewer instances of COVID-19 than in other countries,” Andrzej Betlej, the head of the travel market research company TravelDATA told Rzeczpospolita. “The problem is that in the countries where tourists travel from the pandemic is growing again.”

While seaside, lakeside and mountain resorts benefitted hugely from Poles’ deciding to spend their vacations in domestic beauty spots, cities like Kraków, Wrocław and Warsaw, which are normally magnets for foreign tourists, had empty beds in their top hotels, according to Statistics Poland data on tourist numbers.

While in June the number of foreign overnight stays fell by 88.6 percent, in July the numbers were still down by 68,2 percent on last year, despite the restart of flights from abroad after lockdown. The majority of foreign visitors were daytrippers, it appears, as the average number of overnight stays fell to 0.3. In the case of domestic travellers the rate was 2.4 nights, which was still down 25 percent on last year.

In Kraków hotels the downturn translated into an occupancy rate of 18.3 percent in July, as opposed to 83.7 percent last year, while Warsaw 21.4 percent of beds were filled, as opposed to 70.6 percent last year. In Wrocław hotels were slightly fuller, with 36.7 percent of beds filled, as opposed to 82.2 percent last year.

In monetary terms, according to data from researchers at STR, the income per hotel room fell from PLN 258.50 (EUR 58) to PLN 43.1 (EUR 9.67) in Kraków, the most severely hit of the three. According to the Polish Economic Institute (PIE), in 2018 foreign tourists spent PLN 34.5 bn (EUR 7.7 bn) in Poland.

A government programme to encourage families with children to spend on tourism, which put PLN 500 (EUR 115) at the disposal of parents of each child for spending on accommodation and catering, only started working in August, so there is still no information whether this assisted the top destinations for travellers from abroad. However, it is unlikely that it would have changed domestic tourists’ holiday choices much.