After a good 2013, the hotel industry is poised for an even better year
by Agata Słowińska
Last year was a good one for the Polish hotel business. Some 72 million foreigners visited Poland in 2013, nearly 8 percent more than a year earlier, according to estimates by the Ministry of Sport and Tourism. Nearly 16 million of them were tourists, which also represents a 7 percent increase compared to 2012 numbers.
The length of visits has also increased significantly, which is particularly important for the hotel industry. In 2012, an average visit lasted 3.8 days, while in 2013 it was as much as 4.5 days.
Who, where and why?
Germans are still the largest group visiting Poland, followed by Czechs and Ukrainians. In terms of hotel stays, however, German tourists were followed by Russians and Britons, according to statistics office GUS, whose data also showed that in 2013, Polish hotels saw 5.24 million foreign guests staying for a total of 12.5 million nights.
Interestingly, health tourism is gaining in importance, particularly for German tourists (12 percent of all Germans came to Poland for medical reasons in 2013). Poland is also becoming increasingly popular as a holiday destination, with Kraków the most popular of all Polish cities.
An increasing number of Poland’s eastern neighbors are coming to the country on one-day trips, mainly to do some shopping. As many as 40 percent of all Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians who visited Poland last year stated shopping as their primary goal.
The most frequently visited parts of Poland are the southern voivodships of Małopolskie (Kraków) and Dolnośląskie (Wrocław), followed by the northern Pomorskie (Tri-City) and Zachodniopomorskie (Szczecin), with Mazowieckie (Warsaw) in fifth place.
No wonder, then, that these areas are where most of new hotel developments are located.
Developer Grupa Dobry Hotel recently launched construction on a four-star Best Western hotel in Kraków, called Best Western Plus Q Hotel. This will be the investor’s fifth hotel scheme under the Best Western brand. The seven-storey, 154-room hotel is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014. It will be located close to the ICE convention center, also due to be delivered in 2014.
Wrocław is also expecting a new high-end hotel to be launched soon. The five-star OVO Hilton Wrocław, being developed by Wings Properties, will be opened under the DoubleTree by Hilton brand and will have 200 rooms and suites, conference rooms and a 6.5-meter-high ballroom. Construction is expected to start in Q1 2014 with completion due in 2016.
As many as 800 new hotel rooms will open in Warsaw in 2014. Hilton is set to deliver two new facilities to Poland’s capital: a four-star Double Tree by Hilton and a three-star Hampton by Hilton, each with 300 rooms. Meanwhile, the four-star Warsaw Plaza Hotel will deliver another 150 rooms to the Warsaw market.
New three- or four-star hotels will also be built in Gdańsk and Poznań, as well as in the Silesia region.
But apart from building new facilities, hotel chains are also refurbishing and modernizing their existing ones. Hospitality group Orbis, a unit of France’s Accor, plans to spend PLN 100 million in 2014 on the modernization of its key hotels. Orbis has stressed that 90 percent of that sum will be spent on the Warsaw market.
Prices back up?
Experts seem confident the industry will see the results of economic recovery this year, with more guests and more conferences organized in hotels across Poland. Hotel owners will also likely raise room prices, particularly in the Tri-City and Kraków, due to increased tourist traffic.
This comes as no surprise given that hotel prices went down in 2013. In Warsaw, hotel room prices in June 2013 were 47 percent lower than in June 2012 (the month of the EURO 2012 championship). In Poznań they were nearly 29 percent lower, while in Gdańsk – 27 percent.