From Central and Eastern Europe: “We feel saf...
From Central and Eastern Europe

“We feel safe”

Photo: Poland Convention Bureau
Aneta Ksiazek is chief specialist at the Poland Convention Bureau.
Aneta Ksiazek is chief specialist at the Poland Convention Bureau.

Aneta Ksiazek, chief specialist at the Poland Convention Bureau of Polish Tourism Organisation, about the war in Ukraine, Poland’s solidarity and help zone, transparent communication and the ICCA Congress 2022 in Kraków.

tw tagungswirtschaft: How are you?
I am busy as a bee. Next week (21 - 27 April 2022), together with Polish industry associations and institutions, universities and media we are organizing the 10th edition of the Meetings Week Poland. It serves both to build the position of the meetings industry among customers, as well as provides an educational and integrative meeting of the industry.

Poland is a neighboring country of the Ukraine. This brings up the question of safety. What is your answer?
Our government is doing everything it can to provide security for both the nation and the tourists. We hope that the horrible situation in Ukraine will not discourage tourists from visiting Poland this year. Generally, Poland is a very safe country to travel to.

Sofiya Kayinska of the Lviv Convention Bureau said in an interview: “I think, it will also be effective when institutions write official letters demanding to support Ukraine with actions, with weapons and fighter jets. If this help is not provided by the decision makers, more countries will be under attack like Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia: Russia does not recognize any borders.” What is your opinion on that?
Poland stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. We are aware of the geographical proximity and close ties with Ukraine, but we are in NATO and in the EU and we act as a community. We feel safe. We host international events and tourists. Aside from the military and humanitarian assistance Poland was providing to Ukraine, it would also seek to bolster its neighbor’s energy security. Together we are stronger!

In the Digital Talk “Welcome back to a changed world” of the IMEX Group you said: “Poland is not a war zone, but a help zone”. What do you mean by that?
Due to close ties with Ukraine, expressions of solidarity are common in Poland. We are the first to help. We are a help zone not a war zone. We do not call Ukrainians refugees. They are our guests, our brothers and neighbors from Ukraine. New residents of Poland who need our help. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki emphasized that Poland is prepared for long-term engagement in the aid provided to Ukraine. However, due to the immense costs of this aid, we need assistance from international institutions. We also need support from other countries to be able to respond to this challenge.

Furthermore, you said that transparent communication is key. Where can event professionals get verified information about the situation in Polish congress cities?
I strongly believe that transparent communication about the situation in Central & Eastern Europe is crucial. As Polish Tourism Organisation we are the first contact for anyone seeking information on business partners and conference facilities, who is planning to organize an association congress or a corporate event in Poland. Municipal and regional convention bureaus monitor the situation.

The “TUgether Meetings & Events Council” recommends not to cancel planned events but instead connect them with CSR objectives. Please tell more.
Our industry is creating help zones for both our customers and refugees. To be able to help, we must stand on firm feet. After two years of the pandemic, meetings are needed more than ever: for mental health, relationships and knowledge transfer. They can now take on an additional dimension, related to aid. As a follow-up to their appeal, the TUgether Council is preparing a nation-wide campaign under the motto “Meeting to help”. The members of the council joining the integrated aid campaign declare they will issue donation certificates (so called "bricks") per participant or square meter of the event space. The funds thus collected will be credited to the accounts of the selected relief foundations or NGOs helping Ukraine. The goal is to make customers and participants aware that events can play a major role in the chain of help for those fleeing Ukraine. Members of the council stress that the current situation beyond Poland’s Eastern border should not further exacerbate the situation of the meeting sector, but become an impulse for more dynamic activity in the area of event marketing, which could be an additional source of assistance to those in need.

Krakow will be the host city of annual congress of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) in November. How is the situation in Krakow and what is your message to the international delegates?
The local organizing committee is very excited to host the ICCA family in Kraków. We work normally and prepare the ICCA Congress. It is an excellent opportunity to express solidarity with both Ukraine and Central Europe. In addition to sharing experiences and good practices, organizing the congress will be an excellent opportunity to present the Polish cultural heritage and hospitality. It will also be a great chance to present our infrastructure like congress venues and accommodation facilities. I also believe that it will contribute to the reconstruction and further development of Polish tourism after the pandemic and will provide an inspiration for new promotional efforts in Poland and abroad. In our opinion the main topic of the ICCA Congress should touch important ideas like reunion, solidarity, unity and community. We look forward to developing a strong CSR program to demonstrate the key role of events and the powerful impact of delegates meeting in Kraków to demonstrate what legacy means, especially when it matters more than ever before.
„The main topic of the ICCA congress should touch some important ideas like reunion, solidarity, unity and community.“
Aneta Ksiazek, chief specialist, Poland Convention Bureau of Polish Tourism Organisation

Poland is a member of the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) and belongs to the Central European Chapter (CEC). How important are ICCA and the CEC chapter these days for Poland?
Hosting the ICCA Congress in Kraków is a teamwork from the international and national to the local level. Before we made decision to bid for the congress, we contacted all ICCA members from Poland. To make our appearance stronger we decided to build our bid on the national and European concept. I am very happy to say that we received support from European destinations, including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia and Finland. We are a part of ICCA for 20 years. The ICCA Central European Chapter is second largest chapter with 182 members from 19 countries. Past congresses held in this part of Europe have enjoyed record attendance – Prague in 2017 hosted almost 1,300 attendees, also Leipzig in 2011 was very successful with over 1,000 delegates. Now it is time for Krakow and the very first ICCA Congress in Poland! Come to Kraków! You can count on our experience in Central European market, our solidarity, knowledge, hospitality and a lot of positive energy!  

Are you exhibiting at the tradeshow IMEX in Frankfurt from 31 May to 2 June 2022?    
Yes, we are excited to come back to Frankfurt and IMEX. As I said, 2022 is an anniversary year for the Polish meeting industry as we will celebrate the next week the 10th edition of Meetings Week Poland – with special panel dedicated to our 20th birthday and the 20th anniversary of its membership in ICCA. The main international celebrations will be held at IMEX: You can expect the birthday cake during our Happy hour on 1 June at 05:00pm as well as musical mornings. Morning concerts will take place at the entrance of the fair. Designed to greet the visitors, the music will give them a boost of energy and, above all, encourage them to visit the Polish national stand (G440). This way, we communicate the joy of being able to meet in person again. As the ICCA Congress will be organised in Poland for the first time, it will be subject number one in our promotion at IMEX. See you soon! Kerstin Wuensch
Poland Convention Bureau
The Poland Convention Bureau was created in 2002 as a department of Polish Tourism Organisation and is responsible for the promotion of Poland as an attractive destination for meetings and business events. It is the first contact for anyone seeking information on business partners and conference facilities, who is planning to organize association congress or a corporate event in Poland.