Poland tour, the crossroads of Europe
Description of Poland tour, the crossroads of Europe
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PlanetMuch of the time on this tour is spent in towns and cities, but we do spend time in Bialowieza Forest, a region of ancient woodland and primeval forest and one of the last of its kind on the continent. When exploring this area on foot we take care to stick to the trails and not to damage any of the flora, as some parts of the region are quite a fragile environment. As well as this, the entrance fees that we pay here contribute towards the conservation of some of Europe's most iconic species such as bison, wolf and lynx.
We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours, which includes the drivers. Poland spent much of the 20th century behind the 'Iron Curtain', and as such even twenty years later western European norms regarding the environment are not so well entrenched. Therefore it is quite common for local people to dispose of rubbish simply by throwing it out of the window. We work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.
Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – again in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off – small things but we hope that they can become ingrained into the culture.
Where possible we make use of public transport, which helps in a small way to reduce our carbon footprint. Unfortunately the reliability of public transport in this region prevents us from utilising this more.
PeopleOn all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we spend time in some of Poland’s more traditional areas, in particular the Tatar villages, that do not see as much tourism as other parts of the country. We stay at locally owned guesthouses and hotels and where appropriate employ the services of local people in order not only to gain a greater insight into the complex traditions here but to ensure that they gain financial benefit from our visit, rather than just being ‘exhibits’.
These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travelers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities.
We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations – not just western travelers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance. We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the country. Many of Poland’s sites have been poorly maintained in the past; through carefully supervised tourism, greater worth is placed upon Poland’s rich heritage and it is hoped that local authorities will not only have the funds but also recognise the value in restoring and preserving such places.
Where possible we encourage our travelers to spend their money with local businesses; for this reason we do not include meals where it is feasible to eat outside of the hotels, in order that local restaurants are able to benefit from the presence of tourism, rather than the income being channelled just to the hotel.
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