Eastern Poland Macroregion has a strategic location right next to the European Union border. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that the Macroregion is highly oriented on the development of tourism connected with congresses and trade fairs.
Eastern Poland Macroregion consists of five voivodships: Lubelskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, Świętokrzyskie i Warmińsko-Mazurskie, with 38 border crossing points with Russia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. 6 road routes and 5 railroads connecting European Union with Eastern Europe run through this region. This is just one of the factors which creates very favourable conditions for the trade fair and congress industry development, which leads to attracting investors and business tourists.
The power of this potential is perhaps best seen in Kielce. When in 1993 the first trade fair event - International Defence Industry Exhibition MSPO - was held, nobody expected that twenty years later Kielce Trade Fairs would be the vice-leader in the trade fair industry in Poland and the third exhibition centre in Central and Eastern Europe.
Today Kielce Trade Fairs cover 90,000 m2of exhibition area, 36,000 m2of which are in 7 exhibition halls, and there are over 70 trade fair events organized annually. Simultaneously, there is the PLN 170 mln worth expansion coming to an end, for which PLN 70 mln was received from the EU as part of the support for Development of Eastern Poland Operational Programme.
The biggest part of the investment project is the construction of a PLN 70 mln Convention Center for over 1,000 people, with an underground car park and a 57-meter tower with conference and banquet room. The building will be commissioned in mid - 2013.
AndrzejMochoń, the president of Kielce Trade Fairs explains that, all over the world, there is a trend for exhibitions organizers to develop conference related activities. - Trade fairs are mainly B2B business meetings and narrow specialization around particular industries. Themed meetings are of high importance to professionals. Therefore, conferences make our trade fair offer more attractive. We intend to go further and, for instance, organize congresses regardless of fair events. Such investment will make this solution possible, Mochoń explains.
As part of the EU project, the entrance terminal on the east side and two modern exhibition halls have already been built. At the same time, a multi-level car park and another entrance terminal are under construction. The CEOAndrzej Mochoń stresses: The whole investment will result in a comprehensive service at the top level for the centre's customers.
There are more of such investments in Eastern Poland Macroregion. Lublin Fairs have been expanded for approximately PLN 46 mln. Here, EU co-financing, i.a. from Development of Eastern Poland Operational Programme, amounted to PLN 19 mln. The money served, i.a. to build a new hall of 8,000 m2 and to modernize the old one, also adapting it for conferences organization. Beata Gorajek, the President of the Board of Lublin Fairs Joint Stock Company (Targi Lublin S.A.) comments on the investment: Lublinis getting stronger economically and, in the face of decisions taken about activities within the scope of Centre for Eastern Competences, it needs places that will support its economic promotion. Lublin Fairs are undoubtedly such a tool. She explains that the new facilities allow presenting the region as a modern meeting place not only for fairs and exhibitions.
Events thematically connected with the fields of Lublin industry specialization, aiming to strengthen international contacts, particularly in the area of the Eastern Partnership, will become our specialty, says Beata Gorajek.
Fair and conference centres in Eastern Poland Macroregion are created not only in large urban centres. In the fall of 2012, a modern Demuth Arena Ostróda, Fair and Conference Centre of Warmia and Mazury, was officially opened.The new complex has 20,000 m2of exhibition area, and the investment cost was PLN 82.6 mln, out of which PLN 37.9 mln were EU funds obtained as part of Development of Eastern Poland Operational Programme. And the works are not finished yet - an agreement was signed a few months ago concerning co-financing of the second investment phase by EU. The estimated cost will be PLN 85 mln, out of which PLN 40.4 mln is EU support. The money will be dedicated to build a new hall. Maciej Siembieda, the president of Media Support Group which provides Arena Ostróda with PR and marketing services, says: When both investment phases have been completed, the facility will provide over 42,000 m2of exhibition area, meeting all modern standards for organizing events of national and international importance. He explains that such location is not accidental: We operate on the basis of furniture fairs which have been held for 20 years now. It was the furniture industry centre. He underlines that Arena Ostróda is a private initiative. It was a deliberate decision by the investor, Demuth Group, to choose Eastern Poland Macroregion as it is the region where you can receive the special support for investments. Everybody benefits from it. For instance, a considerable number of 4-star hotels have been created around, and their owners expect trade fairs guests to come back in the future as private customers, for holidays.
Development of exhibition and congress centres is closely observed by Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency (PAIiIZ) which implements the Eastern Poland Economic Promotion Project, as part of 1.4 Development of Eastern Poland Operational Programme. The main project objectives include i.a. increase of foreign direct investment inflow into the Macroregion and development of business tourism in the region. Agnieszka Łukaszewska - Wojnarowska, the head of Regional Development Department of PAIiIZ, says: New facilities where you can organize trade fairs also mean the development of the places where they arise. The exhibition centre itself is not everything. It is crucial to develop more accommodation places, food services, infrastructure; local service providers' sales increase, and this is associated with stimulation of economy, creation of new jobs.
PAIiIZ itself, within the scope of Eastern Poland Economic Promotion Project, tries to use the potential of the new fair and congress facilities in Eastern Poland Macroregion by organizing a series of study visits to international trade fairs abroad. Agnieszka Łukaszewska - Wojnarowska says: Last year, together with entrepreneurs from furniture sector, we took part in the furniture trade fair in Ostróda, in the new MTM Ostróda exhibition hall. In June this year, the third edition of Eastern Poland Forum will be organized at Kielce Trade Fairs.
The developing trade fair community in Eastern Poland with accompanying multiple business meetings, as well as PAIiIZ's promotional campaign for Eastern Poland Macroregion, conduce to hotels development. They serve as forums and business conferences organizers, but also as participants of trade fairs and away missions which are means for their promotion and development. KrzysztofKaczmarek, director of Hotel SPA Dr Irena Eris Wzgórza Dylewskie, says: Thanks to participating in the economic mission in UAE, I had the chance to present Hotel SPA Dr Irena Eris Wzgórza Dylewskie in that market. At the same time, the trip created an opportunity to hold a series of trade negotiations which, I hope, will lead to cooperation in the tourism sector in the future. I believe the initiative of PAIiIZ is very helpful in contacts development. Obviously, we have to wait for the results.
The developing fair community in Eastern Poland and multiple meetings to promote the Macroregion also help to develop the hotel conferences tourism. Urszula Bartochowska, Sales Manager in "Siedlisko Morena” says: „SiedliskoMorena” has been cooperating with PAIiIZ since 2011. It is here where the informative seminar "Eastern Poland Economic Promotion Programme" for entrepreneurs and local governments units was organized.Moreover, last April the representatives of "Siedlisko Morena" hotel took part in the economic mission accompanying the official visit of Prime Minister Donald Tusk in the United Arab Emirates and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The next stage in the mutual relations was the October visit by business representatives of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Poland, during which "Siedlisko Morena" hosted the delegation. During these two days the meetings were held, with the participation of the Mayor of Ełk - Tomasz Andrukiewicz, representatives of local authorities, local businesses and Suwalki Special Economic Zone.