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Entrepreneurs Sum Up Winter Holidays. “The Best Start to the Year in Tourism Since 2019”

HOSPITALITY INDUSTRYEntrepreneurs Sum Up Winter Holidays. "The Best Start to the Year in Tourism Since 2019"

The youth of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship concluded their winter holidays several weeks ago, but the official end of the holiday period in some regions will only occur on the 25th of February. How has the start of the year been for tourism in West Pomerania? Experts are confident that this has been the best start of the year for many years, despite a noticeable change in the tourism preferences of Poles and a reduction in the number of foreign guests.

“Ice swimming could become a winter, seaside tourist attraction”

The Northern Chamber of Commerce has recently been in discussion with representatives of hotels, travel agencies and catering establishments throughout the region. Entrepreneurs from Świnoujście and Międzyzdroje have reported the most positive winter season, while smaller towns have seen a less optimistic mood. Several guesthouses in the Chamber have suspended their operations for the winter and plan to resume work around Easter.

How do businesses evaluate the first two months of 2024? The sentiments are quite positive.

“It was the best start to the year for the West Pomeranian tourism industry since 2019. We can talk about a certain rebound. Winter tourism is not only about mountains and skiing, but also about the Baltic and, for instance, activities related to ice swimming. Hotel occupancy is estimated at approximately 70%. Hotels with spa facilities were particularly in demand. It is worth noting that not all entrepreneurs operate in winter, so those who accept guests often have higher occupancy, but must also offer more than just a place to sleep,” says Hanna Mojsiuk, head of the Northern Chamber of Commerce in Szczecin.

Can we finally say that the Baltic resorts are year-round destinations?

“We have been heading in this direction for years, although the situation has been complicated by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. This year, however, we see that towns like Kołobrzeg, Międzyzdroje, and especially Świnoujście, are year-round destinations. We must work on attractive tourist products that will attract tourists in winter. For instance, ice swimming could become such a product,” Hanna Mojsiuk suggests.

Fewer tourists from Germany, more from Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia

The business owners note that the beginning of 2024 was different from 2023 or 2022.

“There have been fewer tourists from Germany. This is a serious problem for seaside tourism in winter since in the first quarter, the German tourist was usually the main client of hotels, spas, and restaurants. This year, the economic crisis in this country and mass protests have caused full packages of tourists from Germany to cancel their stay because there was no one to transport them to Poland,” says Roman Kucierski, director of the Hamilton hotel. The lack of German tourists has been compensated by domestic tourists as well as an increasing number of visitors from the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Renting apartments in winter cheaper than suspending operations

Do tourists resting by the Baltic Sea choose hotels or also rental apartments? According to real estate market expert Mirosław Król, during the holiday season, rental apartments sell out very quickly. The situation is more complicated in winter. Like hotels, administrators of seaside apartments often decide to suspend operations.

“I know tenants who previously believed that winter on the Baltic Sea was a dead season and it was not worth being on, but this year they took a risk and often have had occupancy since New Year’s till now. Entrepreneurs renting apartments in winter had to slightly lower prices, but this is still better business than going into winter hibernation,” says Mirosław Król.

Apartments by the sea attracted more interest from individual customers than from organized groups. Świnoujście and large tourist centres are the most popular according to Mirosław Król.

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