Golf on par with best investments in Poland

Chairman the ITI media group, Jan Wejchert, is planning to invest 60 million euros in the thriving golfing industry, still perceived as elitist in Poland.

The construction of a new golf course, already in progress near the Polish capital, will cost Wejchert between ten to twelve million euros, the daily Rzeczpospolita has discovered.

The ITI Chairman will have to spend an additional 48 to 50 million euros on purchasing the necessary amount of land. The new golf course will be be among the best in Central and Eastern Europe, says the company.

The golf market has been on the increase in Poland, as the number of Polish golf amateurs, currently estimated at 6,000, grows by 20 per cent every year, according to the Polish Golf Association.

“There are currently about 40 golf courses in Poland, including several 18-holes ones. [...] Some of the golf courses in Poland are on par with the world’s best,” Waclaw Laszkiewicz, head of marketing at the Polish branch of PGA told the newspaper.

In September this year, Wejherowo, north Poland will be the venue of the European qualifications for the Golf World Championship with a prize pool of 5.5 million US dollars.
Source: polskieradio.pl

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Poland targets young age bracket in tourism drive

Golfing or kite surfing are two activities rarely mentioned in connection with Poland, but preconceptions about the east European nation are not keeping up with developments in its tourist industry. "There's a long list of attractions that are not associated with Poland," said Jan Wavrzyniak, director of the Polish tourist board, in Hamburg recently.

Kite surfing is one of those activities. "Wind conditions around the Baltic peninsula of Hel are the best in Europe."

Poland is now trying to raise awareness of what it has to offer visitors.

"Poland can be surprising," is the tourist board's new slogan to entice mainly young visitors.

At the moment, most tourists visiting Poland are in the 25 to 45-year-old age group and they have a range of wellness hotels, adventure activities and night clubs in the big cities to cater for their needs.

Poland already counts on a high number of visitors. "Poland had 15 million tourists last year," says Wavrzyniak. That number includes all visitors who spent at least one night in the country.

Poland is especially popular among German visitors as 5.3 million arrived. The country has been in the top ten list of destinations that Germans visited since 2006.

Last year, it was eighth on Germans' list of destinations for bus tours after Italy, Austria and that old favourite of Spain in fourth. Almost all of Poland's border controls with EU nations have fallen since the country joined the Schengen Agreement last year.

Wavrzyniak believes that the move considerably boosted the number of people visiting his country. Among the most popular destinations in Poland are the Masuria region in the northeast, the Baltic Coast and the Karkonosze Mountains on the Czech border.

Poland is also popular as a city-break destination with the old royal city of Krakow welcoming 6.8 million visitors last year making it one of the top urban destinations overall.

"Almost every American that comes to Europe, comes to Krakow," says Wavrzyniak.

Poland is also likely to get another boost through football, regardless of how the country performs at the European Championship, as it is co-hosting the 2012 event along with Ukraine.

Investment in tourist infrastructure such as hotels is taking place with international chains such as the Radisson and Hilton building new branches.

The country's second Sheraton Hotel is due to open in the Baltic seaside town of Sopot.

Poland is also hosting the UN's Climate Conference in September in Poznan which will be something of a test run for 2012 as about 10,000 visitors from 180 nations are expected to attend the event.
Source: earthtimes.org

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Poland's Paralympic champ in Olympics

BEIJING (Reuters) - Poland's Natalia Partyka is both a long shot and a clear favorite for a table tennis medal at the Beijing Games.

The Polish player, who was born with a right arm that ends at the elbow, is the reining Paralympic champion.

But before defending her Paralympic title, she will get a crack at the Olympics in team play -- one of only two athletes, along with South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, to compete in both in Beijing.

"All the time I play with able people, so I like more the Olympics, but I'm so happy I'm going to play in the Paralympics and I hope I can win," she said.

Partyka, 19, burst into the sport's top tier earlier this year when she defeated Singapore's Li Jia Wei, world number six, in a match at the world team championships.

"A lot of people were surprised but only at the beginning," she said. "I think now it's normal, all the players know me."

Partyka cradles the ball in the nook of her shortened right arm, tossing it up and turning sharply to serve, a technique that has carried her to a world ranking of 147th.

Coupled with excellent footwork, she said she feels no disadvantage against competitors.

"Maybe I'm not so good with body balance but I have strong legs, so really it's not so difficult," she said.

Partyka failed to qualify for singles play at the Olympics and was selected by the national coach for the team competition.

"It is my first but I hope not last (Olympics)," she said. "In London I would like to take part in singles."
Source:By Simon Rabinovitch, reuters.com

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