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Summer is upon us and everyone is planning their holidays. Each new year brings a host of reasons to choose a particular destination. According to a KPMG report, Poles spent about PLN 20.2 billion in total on vacations last year, and this year the figure will rise to PLN 31.9 billion. But only a portion of it will go to tour operators

By Daria Mamont

A survey conducted for Mondial Assistance by pollster Ipsos Polska revealed that as many as 17 million Poles will go on vacation during this holiday season, which nearly half of the Polish population and 9 percent more in comparison with 2015. The majority of them (73 percent) will spend their holidays domestically.

The average budget allocated by Polish households for this year’s vacation grew from PLN 1,321 (in Q3 2015) to PLN 1,490 per person for domestic trips and from PLN 2,608 to PLN 2,922 per person when it comes to traveling abroad.

The top destinations among Poles have also changed, mainly due to the complex geopolitical developments in many countries and the threat of terrorism in previously popular regions.

“In such turbulent times, as Polish customers see them, they come to the conclusion that it would be more peaceful to travel somewhere close, in their homeland,” said Krzystof Piątek, the President of the Polish Tour Operators Association (PZOT).

As a result, safety fears have caused a slump in tourist traffic to countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.

So, instead, Spain (including the Canary Islands) and Croatia will be the most popular tourist destinations among Poles in summer 2016, followed by Italy and the previous “travel-leader,” Greece. While Greece has been on many Poles’ to-visit list for decades, with its glorious white sandy beaches and incredible local food, it’s now deemed to have a general threat of terrorist attack for tourists.

“We believe that a substantial contributing factor is the ongoing chaos in Greece,” said Tomasz Frączek, board chief of travel insurance company Mondial Assistance. “It’s not cheap, and then there’s the immigrants, refugees who have been coming into Europe via Greek islands – this does not encourage many people to spend their long-awaited vacations there,” he explained.

However, a close neighbor of Greece and Turkey – Bulgaria, is appearing on Poles’ journey wish lists more often. Sofia, the center of the Balkan Peninsula, attracts tourists with a wide scale of holiday opportunities midway between the Black Sea and the Adriatic.

Magdalena Plutecka-Dydoń, PR Manager at Neckermann, one of the biggest tour operators in Poland, noted that sales of trips to Bulgaria have tripled since 2015. Moreover, Plutecka-Dydoń mentioned that Bulgaria, along with Croatia and Italy, will be the most popular countries among Poles who travel by car.

Speaking of modern destinations for summer 2016, Poles are keen on two fashionable trends – Malta and the Dominican Republic. The youth contingent chooses Malta not only because of the magnificent landscapes, but also for its language camps, which many Polish citizens attend in order to combine holidays and English language courses.

Additionally, travel agencies state that high competitiveness in the airline industry, along with oil and fuel price decreases, will lead to price-cutting during summer 2016, so every traveler will save up to PLN 150 on each reservation.

New season – new flight routes

Today, flying to Poland has become much easier due to the large number of airports around the country and the increased number of airlines that run busy flight schedules to them. Airports are situated in the vicinity of most of the largest cities in Poland and they are serviced by many international flight operators.

Many airlines, including small domestic carriers with few planes, and full-service international operators with hundreds of aircraft, have focused precisely on summer 2016. That is why almost every month, well-known airlines announce the launch of new flight routes to and from Poland.

Statistics say the most well-liked and popular airlines among Poles are Polish LOT, German Lufthansa and low-cost carriers Ryanair and Wizz Air. And all of them have been pretty busy this summer season announcing new routes.

For instance, LOT will get you to Nice or Tokyo directly from the Polish capital. Meanwhile, Ryanair launched flights to the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast. Hungarian Wizz Air announced new flights as well, including to Croatia, Dubai and Ukraine.

Do it yourself

Nowadays, finding a way to book cheap flights and accommodation has never been easier. More tourists implement “do it yourself” online travel bookings instead of going to travel agencies. Thanks to services such as Skyscanner and Airbnb, finding the cheapest or most convenient solution is just a click away.

That’s why, besides the aforementioned global giants, many local equivalents are gaining popularity, such as fly4free or flipo.

“While planning their holiday trips, Poles rely above all on their own experience,” a report by the worldwide professional service company KPMG revealed. “As much as 67 percent choose a place they know personally. As many as 61 percent make decisions based on recommendations from family and friends. But the internet is also an important planning tool with 60 percent of Poles using the web when planning,” it found.

So, customers conduct online research in order to book their journey by themselves. They find tickets, book hotels (and sometimes meals), and rent a car via special websites.

If you are continuously hunting for the best travel deals from Poland, you have probably heard of booking agents and search engines such as flipo.pl, fly4free.com, or scyscanner.net, which offer some cheap flight tickets, promoted accommodation, and error fares.

Error fare flight is a term most travelers have already heard of. It means what it implies. Everything behind all airfares is still driven by humans, and this is the key factor in why the error fare actually occurs. One of the most common samples is when fuel surcharge, airport taxes or other fees are not added to the final price before the travel agency or airline is alerted. If you are wondering to which destinations you may book an error fare flight, it is completely unpredictable for an obvious reason – the airfares are randomly “screwed up” during the implementation process making it difficult to predict where the next crazy rate may appear. So, it may be surprising, but error fares are usually found on long distance routes from Europe to Asia or America.

If you’re patient and know where to look, you can find real bargains such as a round-trip ticket to Tokyo for PLN 800, or flights to the US from various cities in Europe for less than PLN 1,500. With such bargains you have to take into account long layovers, extra fees for luggage and transport to other countries as most such fares are for routes from and to different European cities.

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