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Why visiting Poland and spending cash on tourism will help Ukrainians

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Inform your readers, “Please come.” That’s the message Szymon, a Krakow hotelier, requested me to cross on. He has seen his bookings from overseas vacationers plummet for the reason that Russian invasion of Ukraine. After two years of little enterprise due to Covid, tells me he can’t survive a 3rd, and should shut some properties except bookings decide up.

Szymon’s plea isn’t only for him. It’s for the Ukrainian refugees staying without spending a dime at considered one of his properties. An estimated 150,000 refugees have escaped to Krakow, rising the town’s inhabitants by 20 per cent in a matter of weeks. Poland has welcomed round half of the six million Ukrainians who’ve fled.

And what a welcome. Whereas the state stepped in to permit refugees to stay and work within the nation, it has been the response from Poles themselves that has mattered. Tens of millions of Ukrainians are helped and housed in non-public properties. I’ve Polish mates who’ve pushed 1000’s of kilometres to the border to choose Ukrainians up or spend lunchtimes between work serving to at refugee reception centres. It has grow to be a nationwide effort.

The issue for Szymon – and tens of 1000’s of different individuals in Krakow employed by tourism – is that if their companies shut, they’ll’t assist refugees. And the numbers don’t look good. The Polish authorities says cancellations for journeys from overseas have risen by 30 to 40 per cent. Jet2 has suspended flights to Krakow.

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Many Poles I converse to suppose it’s the fault of geography – that UK vacationers are scared to come back as a result of they misunderstand how shut Poland is to the struggle. In fact there is no such thing as a level in a vacation spent worrying about tanks, however Krakow is almost 1,000km from Odessa – about the identical distance as London to Milan. The UK Authorities hasn’t modified its recommendation for journey to Poland.

The extra widespread purpose I hear is that it “doesn’t really feel proper” to go to Krakow – a way that the nation is consumed with serving to refugees and it will be inappropriate to take a vacation there. I perceive the intuition, however if you’re involved in regards to the plight of Ukrainians, there frankly isn’t any higher nation or metropolis to take a vacation.

As Dorota Wojciechowska , director of the Polish Nationwide Vacationer Workplace within the UK, tells me, “Each penny spent in Poland means rather a lot for Poles and the Ukrainians who discovered a brand new house right here.” These pennies go to Szymon, to attend workers, cooks and tour guides who’re housing, feeding and serving to refugees.

That’s sufficient. However, if like me you’ve felt indignant however helpless in regards to the struggle, a visit to Poland will soothe your soul. Few nations have fought longer for their very own democracy than Poland, usually towards Russia. The will and motion to assist Ukraine here’s a nationwide wrestle. You possibly can assist. There are alternatives to volunteer, no matter your abilities. You possibly can really feel helpful. You may make a distinction.

Rory Boland is the journey editor at Which?

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