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Polish Towns Becoming a Fashionable Hub for Tourists from the Arabian Peninsula

Signs in Arabic have appeared around the Polish mountain resort town of Zakopane as local businesses prepare for a record number of tourists from the Middle East in 2024.

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Signs in Arabic have appeared around the Polish mountain resort town of Zakopane as local businesses prepare for a record number of tourists from the Middle East in 2024.

Zakopane, which sits at the foot of Poland’s southern Tatra mountains, has in recent years become a popular destination for Arab visitors. A record number came last year, when they made up the largest group of foreign tourists, reports the Gazeta Wyborcza daily. According to Tatra Chamber of Commerce Karol Wagner, this year bookings are projected to be even higher.

“We have around 20% more reservations from this direction [the Middle East] than in the same period last year. It is estimated that around 15% of tourists in the area now come from Arab countries,” says Wagner.

In anticipation of the arrival of visitors from places such as Bahrain, UAE and Qatar – who are bigger spenders on average than Polish or other European tourists – local businesses have been preparing Arabic-language material.

Signs have appeared around the city advertising restaurants in Arabic, including the fact that they offer halal food. (Poland is one of Europe’s biggest producers of halal and kosher meat.)

“This is a consequence of the innate skill of Podhale entrepreneurs combined with the most modern AI solutions,” says Wagner.

“Thanks to tools that enable error-free communication in Arabic, we can create ads, menus and information in Arabic quickly and completely free of charge,” says Wagner.

Zakopane County Council Head Agata Wojtowicz, says that initially, there was “a little indignation” among locals when the first Arab tourists began to arrive in the town.

“Everyone is first afraid of something they don’t know,” says Wojtowicz.

In 2019, a local newspaper warned Poles “not to panic” at the fact that some Arab tourists were giving local children money. This was just part of a present-giving tradition during Eid, it informed.

Now, says Wojtowicz, the visitors are welcomed.

“These billboards [in Arabic] are another step in our flexibility,” says Wojtowicz.

Last year, Emilia Glista, from a local consulting and marketing agency, noted that tourists from the Middle East have helped Zakopane “fill the gap left by guests from Belarus and Russia, whom we no longer see,” following the invasion of Ukraine.


Meanwhile, another Polish media report claims that Arab visitors are also interested in another popular Polish tourist destination, the northern Baltic coast.

According to the Polish Hotel Industry Chamber of Commerce Agnieszka Maszner-Paprocka the proportion of foreign guests is higher than before in Świnoujście.

“They are mainly tourists from Germany, but we are also an attractive destination for Swedes and Czechs. There are also the first inquiries from Saudi Arabian citizens,” says Paprocka.

Notes from the Editor: This feature has been edited from its original publication here.

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