The tourist values of the Poznań Agglomeration
PhD student of the University of Economics in Poznań
Faculty of Economics
In 2010, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the reinstatement of local government in Poland. According to the provisions of the law, the citizens of towns and communes became rightful members of local communities who perform public tasks in their territories on their own behalf and on their own responsibility. In the general opinion, these two decades of self-government in Poland were a period of progress in the development of technical and social infrastructure, the development of the local economy, increasing standards of public services and a considerable improvement in the quality of life of the citizens. This progress is especially visible in big city areas, such as the Poznań Agglomeration, which is one of the leaders in the socio-economic changes in Poland. The agglomeration is made up of the city of Poznań, the capital of the Province of Greater Poland, with a population of nearly 600,000, surrounded by a group of towns and communes, most of which are part of Poznań County.
The Poznań Agglomeration is a city community of a new generation, living and developing beyond its administrative borders. It is a place of residence, work and rest shared by a million people. This is a common space, a common environment and infrastructure. This is also solving problems together and common care about future. This is an area where cooperation is a precondition of progress and development, cooperation which allows the local population to gain competitive advantage in Poland and abroad.
Is the Poznań Agglomeration a good place for the development of services in (business, cycle) tourism and sport?
There is a lot of evidence for this thesis. The main arguments are special territorial conditions, the diversified tourist and sports facilities as well as the potential of the citizens of the Poznań Agglomeration: their diligence, creativity and innovative character.
In recent years, big cities have been creating common development policies and implementing integrated strategies and plans which concern, among others, public transport, communal economies, social services and common promotion. This is also the case in the city of Poznań, which, along with its neighbouring communes, has become a municipal community of a new generation during the last 20 years since the reinstatement of local government in Poland, a community living and developing beyond its administrative borders. The city of Poznań, the County Council in Poznań, the communes of Poznań County and the towns of Szamotuły, Skoki and Śrem decided on the establishment of the Poznań Agglomeration. The Poznań Agglomeration is one of seven most urbanized areas in Poland, apart from four other agglomerations (Warsaw, Cracow, Łódź, Wrocław) and two conurbations (Upper Silesia and Tricity – Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot). The formalized Poznań Metropolis Association has already been established this year.
The Poznań Agglomeration is a place of residence, work and rest shared by a million people, with a big potential for tourism development. Also the outskirts of the region have considerable scenic, recreational and specialist values.
Is the Poznań Agglomeration a good place for development of services in the areas of (business, cycle) tourism and sport?
In terms of tourist traffic services, the collective accommodation facilities which are situated in the communes of the agglomeration are overshadowed by the city of Poznań. It is the city where the biggest hotels are, whereas the communes usually play only a supplementary role in tourist traffic services, which are oriented towards staying in Poznań.
There are 125 tourist facilities with approx. 10,500 beds which are available all year. Within the borders of the city of Poznań, there are 65 facilities offering nearly 8,000 beds. More than 500,000 people use the city’s accommodation facilities every year.
The communes which are part of the agglomeration are now rather places of one-day rest for the local population (with no accommodation). The accommodation facilities develop the most dynamically in the communes adjoining Poznań. Recreational tourism is supplanted by business tourism, and former tourist and recreational facilities are adapted to conference and training functions.
Number of accommodations in the Poznań Agglomeration (2009)
Source: Strategy of Development of the Poznań Agglomeration
In most of the communes, tourism develops independently – there is not one cohesive concept. Besides, in most of the communes, it only satisfies the needs of the local population. Tourism as a distinctive feature occurs in Kórnik and Puszczykowo. The communes of the agglomeration publish brochures and tourist maps. Internet portals of the towns and the city usually have sections devoted to their tourist values and infrastructure, they are also promoted at tourist fairs (through the associations PLOT, WOT or the County Council). In recent years, the communes have taken many actions aimed at the development of tourism and recreation in the region. The most frequent initiative was marking out of cycle and walking trails. The existing sports facilities were extended and new pitches were built. A number of inter-communal associations were established, which was of great importance for the development of tourism in the area. New hotels and sports halls are planned to be built in near future.
The Poznań Agglomeration is quite diversified in terms of its tourist values. Most of its communes have a broad spectrum of cultural, natural, recreational and specialist values. The tourist attractions include the Old Market Square and the Town Hall in Poznań, Malta Lake, the castle and the arboretum in Kórnik, the palace in Rogalin, the Citadel, Zielonka Forest and others. The agglomeration also offers many cultural attractions with the Malta Theatre Festival as its flagship. Other events are: the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition, the waiters’ race, Saint Martin’s birthday or local events, like commune days.
The tasks of the Agglomeration are financial support and expert help for the member communes and creation of a common tourist product. The strength of the Agglomeration is the possibility to take advantage of its big population potential. The tourist policy of the agglomeration should base on a product which will be attractive both for the local residents and visitors.
The most popular form of active tourism in the agglomeration is cycle tourism, in which almost one third of the population are engaged. The biggest problem is lack of a cohesive network or cycle lanes in towns. This is of great importance because most people set out on bike trips from their places of residence. There is a sufficient number of cycle trails, but they are not marked cohesively.
Forms of inter-communal cooperation in the Poznań Agglomeration in the area of tourism:
Source: Strategy of Development of the Poznań Agglomeration
Poznań is mainly a place of business tourism, which includes all kinds of business trips, meetings, trips to conferences, fairs or study tours. Apart from the above elements connected with sightseeing, this is a dynamically developing and highly profitable branch. The Poznań International Fair is an extremely important element here.
Functional areas in a tourist city
Source: Competitiveness and cohesion of the Poznań Agglomeration
The importance of business is growing at present. Its development is a consequence of globalization. International meetings help develop business and they contribute to the economic and social development of individual countries. For many cities where business meetings take place, this is a key element of the local economy which means jobs for many people. Business tourism is an industry which activates different environments (hotels, catering, trade and services, cultural facilities) and engages large human resources for serving the visitors. This is a very important factor in the economic development of towns, regions and countries. All over the world, the number of foreign business trips is constantly growing. The Poznań Agglomeration has very good conditions in the sphere of business tourism, especially fairs. Business tourism is not only business trips but also taking advantage of the attractions of the destination place. Apart from the hotel and the airport, business tourists take advantage of local cultural and sports attractions, they discover the history and sights of the places they visit. In many cities, walking trails are marked out, such as the Royal-Imperial Route in Poznań or the Town Tourist Trail in right-hand bank Śrem.
The most popular place on the Poznań route is the Old Market Square with its enchanting tenement houses, fountains, the Town Hall with butting billy goats or the parish church. Other attractions include museums and churches: the Górka Family Palace housing the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Musical Instruments, the National Museum, the Royal Castle with the Museum of Applied Arts. In the evenings, the city’s rich cultural offer includes performances and concerts, for example in the Nowy Theatre, the Musical Theatre, the Polski Theatre, the Great Theatre or the Poznań Philharmonic. In the city, tourist can also go on walks and plays sports, for example in the Sports-Recreational Centre on Malta Lake. It is worth to visit the Wilson Park with the Poznań Palm House and the Citadel Hill – a large park with an exhibition of weaponry and sculptures by Magdalena Abakanowicz, a world-famous Polish sculptor.
One of the biggest attractions in the vicinity of Poznań is, undoubtedly, the palace in Rogalin, which was built in the 18th century, with a French garden and the Rogalin Scenic Park surrounding the place. Another attraction of Rogalin is a group of famous old oaks named Lech, Czech and Rus. In the neighbourhood, there is also the castle in Kórnik with a coach house and the Wielkopolski National Park, which protects a postglacial landscape and many species of birds and animals.
However, what is the most important in business tourism is the number of facilities which have services for business tourists in their offer. The Poznań Agglomeration has well developed hotel facilities and a big potential for development. Thanks to the Poznań International Fair and the hotel facilities, the city has a strong position on the map of Poland. Admittedly, the number of hotel guests in the area of the whole agglomeration usually declines abruptly with the end of the fair events season. This is why it would be beneficial if conferences and congresses held between the fair events filled these gaps and if the Poznań Agglomeration became not only a place where fairs are held but also a conference centre.
Cycling is a very popular form of tourism in the Poznań Agglomeration, popular despite the barrier which is lack of cycle infrastructure in the city which would enable safe and convenient access to green areas. Cycling is so popular mainly because of the valuable natural and recreational areas which are situated in Poznań and the neighbouring communes.
Since the early 1990s, the Poznań Agglomeration has been the leader of cycle tourism in Poland. Greater Poland Province was the first region where an inventory of cycle trails was made; most of these cycle trails were marked out on local initiatives. Thanks to this inventory, the marking system was put in order and unified. New trails are still marked out and old ones are modernized in the agglomeration area, for the benefit of cyclists and the development of tourism in the region. The present recreational and tourist offer, based to a large extent on the existing park lanes and forest tracks and linked together with a relatively simple marking system, is surely sufficient for the majority of the residents of the agglomeration. However, to make the development of cycle recreation and tourism permanent and to attract also cyclists from outside the agglomeration, it is necessary to create a hierarchical system of cycle trails and invest in new projects. The trails network must be complemented by an accompanying infrastructure adapted to the cyclists’ needs. What is very important is a proper hierarchy of the cycle infrastructure and its division from the point of view of individual group of users. The expectations of people riding on bikes are diversified: starting from the willingness to relax on bike in green areas through cultural tourism to even competitive cycling. In some communes, however, there are barriers which hinder the development of tourism. In most cases, this is lack of tourist infrastructure, lack of big tourist attractions or handicaps caused by the presence of protected areas. Cycle tourism is very popular in the Poznań Agglomeration; unfortunately, what it lacks is a cohesive and well organized network of cycle lanes and trails.
Sport is an important element which also influences the development of tourism. The communes of the Poznań Agglomeration have been investing in sport for many years. There are over 1,500 sports and recreation facilities of different types in Poznań and the neighbouring communes. Some of them host international sports events (Malta Sailing Regatta, the City Stadium in Poznań, Wola Hippodrome), others are available to local residents (artificial ski slope, indoor swimming pools, tennis courts, sports halls, pitches). Thanks to the access to this diversified sports infrastructure, one can play almost all sports disciplines in the Poznań Agglomeration. There are more and more swimming pools and aqua parks built. The City Stadium in Poznań was expanded for the EURO 2012 football championships. There are many sports clubs which are also successful in the international arena. The Poznań Agglomeration has a significant position in sport both in Poland and in the world.
The Poznań Agglomeration is a structure of communes which pursue common interests: the development of transport and tourist-recreational infrastructure and the promotion or building of a common development strategy. Nearly one million of people and their needs influence the bloom of the city of Poznań and other communes, also in terms of tourism, entertainment, recreation, culture: the Old Market Square, cafes, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, galleries or sport: the stadium, the pitches, the areas around Malta Lake. The asset of the Agglomeration is also a large number of historical buildings: churches, manor houses, palaces. Poznań and its vicinity is also an important recreational centre: the ski slope which is open all year, the possibility to play water sports on the lakes or the Wielkopolski National Park with its numerous tourist trails.
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