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“Come and find your (love) story”.

Remaking the image of Poland as a tourist destination
Sabina Owsianowska
Traduction(s) :
"Visitez la Pologne à la recherche de votre histoire d’amour" [fr]
“Come and find your (love) story” [de]


It was not until the political transformation in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s that freedom, democratisation and new opportunities in travelling emerged. In connection with broader economic, social and cultural changes after the collapse of communism, tourism promotion acted in multiple ways; among them, modification of the decades-rooted image of the region – and particular countries – may be considered the key function. In this article, I propose reflection on what role in this process is played by references to the embodiment of tourist practices and performances, sensuality, love and eroticism, used by the senders of the message to reshape the image of Poland in selected promotional campaigns issued between 2004 and 2015. The main goal of this paper is not only to discuss the methods and techniques chosen by the broadcasters, but also to pay attention to the content that remains (un)intentionally ambiguous.

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1All tourist destinations aspire to have their own distinctive, recognisable image. However, achieving this objective is a process that not only requires a good idea, proficiency in persuasive techniques and planning a successful advertising campaign, but also coordinating actions of various entities. Promoters of regions that, for political reasons, did not have the chance to develop good solutions in this field will encounter a particular challenge. This was the case, among others, in Central and Eastern Europe which, after World War 2, was incorporated into the area of the Soviet Union’s influence. When post-socialist countries became sovereign again, institutions responsible for tourism promotion faced multiple tasks that were primarily expected to result in establishing a desired image of new destinations within the foreign tourists’ awareness. However, it can be assumed that the objectives of advertising activities went beyond the purely marketing goals and, in this case, the way of reinterpreting heritage also implied a pursuit to reconstruct and consolidate the national identity after decades of being under a totalitarian system in completely new circumstances (Banaszkiewicz, Graburn and Owsianowska, 2017; Hallet and Kaplan-Weingner, 2010, p. 15-32).

2As tourism representations are crucial in shaping a place image, a number of questions can be asked: What signs and symbols were at the promotional core of Poland after 1989? How were the narratives about the country and its people shaped? What new strategies of remaking the image were proposed after the accession to the European Union in 2004? Research in this area was mainly devoted to marketing, analysis of visitor profile statistics (potential visitors, and then, the incoming tourists), as well as reception of the message and quantitative assessment of its effectiveness (Image research, 2011; Johann, 2014). To a lesser extent, the interest of scholars was raised by the issues surrounding the idea of the country, the culture, the inhabitants are propagated with the advertising of tourist products and destinations. In the article, critical and intertextual analysis of semiotic data is proposed (see MacCannell, 1976; Dann, 1996, 2011; Feighery, 2006; Jaworski and Thurlow, 2009, 2010; Hallet and Kaplan-Weinger, 2010; Urry and Larsen, 2011).

3The semiotic analysis (MacCannell, 1976; Dann, 1996, 2011) of the information and promotion message indicates signs that are associated with Polishness and are the basis for creating the country’s image. The main symbols and attractions which have been widely referred to in promotional campaigns since 1989 include: architecture, monuments, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Cracow, Warsaw, Zamosc, Torun, wooden churches and tserkvas, etc.); nature (beautiful landscapes, Tatra Mountains, Masuria Lake District, Bialowieza Forest, animals such as bisons and storks); folklore, (in)tangible heritage including traditional dances, clothes, handicrafts, customs, open-air museums, festivals, religious celebrations and cuisine; historical events commemoration (e.g. Shipyard in Gdansk; Auschwitz-Birkenau nazi concentration camp); modern achievements and facilities (for example the Copernicus Science Centre or stadiums built for EURO 2012); prominent individuals in science (Nicolaus Copernicus, Marie Curie-Sklodowska), art (Fryderyk Chopin, Czeslaw Milosz), politics (Lech Walesa), religion (Pope John Paul II), sport (Adam Malysz) and, last but not least, hospitable inhabitants.

4In the selected campaigns that have promoted Poland since 2004, on the one hand, the proven narrative strategies are reproduced, while on the other hand, they are contested and an alternative is suggested that might result in change of stereotypes and the creation of a new image. In this article, I propose reflection on what role in shaping the picture of the country is played by eroticization of its image by techniques and means of expression which the senders of the message use. In this particular case, the context of competing value systems, lifestyles, and even ideological conflicts are also taken into consideration. Especially, in the new political situation after the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015, it is once again the desire to replace the existing narrative by new storylines, based on the reinterpretation of history and the present times. It is therefore worth analyzing the promotional activities in the years 2004-2015 and asking a few questions: In this process, how significant popular advertising references are to the embodiment of tourist practices and performances, sensuality, love and eroticism that introduce meanings into the tourism discourse which stir up positive emotions and attract potential visitors? What is the residents’ reception of the new, sometimes provocative and controversial ways of promoting the country which abandon deep-rooted patterns? Are there any risks related to the chosen storytelling?To answer these questions, an analysis of selected promotional campaigns which focus on the image of Poland and tourism products is proposed.

Discourse, place image and tourist imaginaries: research background and methodology

5Interest in the concept of a place image dates back to the 1960s (cf. Boulding, 1956; Martineau, 1958; Gallarza, Saura and Garcia, 2002). In one of the first studies devoted to the topic, the authors noted that more often it is the image that determines whether we purchase and trip and not the information one possesses (La Page and Cormier, 1977). According to Graham Dann (1977), the pull factors are linked to how the image of the place is perceived. On the basis of multiple analyses of pre-, on- and post-trip tourist media from a sociolinguistic perspective, Dann (1996) clearly underlines the influence of the language of tourism on the development of contemporary travelling – the aim of tourism discourse is “to persuade, lure, woo and seduce millions of human beings, and, in so doing, convert them from potential into actual clients” (p. 2). Noel Salazar (2013) expresses a similar opinion by writing that without seductive images of people and places “there would be little tourism, if any at all” (p. 34). This justifies the interest in a destination image, not only in terms of marketing effectiveness, but in relation to existing, transforming and circulating representations of people and places, inscribed in the tourist experience.

6Studies on the tourist imagery were conducted by Daniel Boorstin (1976), Dean MacCannell (1979), John Urry (1990), Rachid Amirou (1995), Graham Dann (1996), Tom Selwyn (1996), Anna Wieczorkiewicz (2008) among others. In recent years the concept of “imaginaries” has become more popular in the anthropology of tourism (Salazar, 2009; Graburn, Salazar, 2014; Gravari-Barbas and Graburn, 2016). Naomi Leite (2014) draws attention to the etymology of the noun “imaginary”, and the various meanings attributed to the word by researchers: from fantasies and worldviews, through myth and narrative, to stereotypes and interpretive schemas (p. 261). Due to the lack of direct access to imaginaries, we can only learn them from a variety of sources. Noel Salazar and Nelson Graburn (2014) suggest that the only way to study imaginaries which remain intangible is to focus on “the multiple conduits through which they pass and become visible in the form of images and discourse” (p. 2). In other words, one should concentrate on how imaginaries are mediated, and to better understand the process of their creation, reproduction and “materialization” in tourist sites, attractions, museums, media and suchlike, different theoretical perspectives may be helpful (Leite and Graburn, 2009).

7Essentially, it is not about individual imagery, but about the socially-transmitted set of representations that affect the perception of people and places, and also the meanings attributed to them (Salazar, 2011). It can therefore be concluded that this concept is another attempt to understand the relationship between imaginary/imaginaries and the tourist experience, both within the realm of travel and beyond. Critical discourse analysis of selected promotional campaigns, entitled “Welcome to Poland”, “Polska. Move Your Imagination”, “Feel Invited”, “Polska. Come and Find Your Story”, is the basis for further discussion. Discourse, as it is understood in this paper, is multimodal (Dann, 1996; Hallet and Kaplan-Weingner, 2010); both verbal and non-verbal elements are examined and interpreted in broader historical, political, social and cultural contexts. One of the main aspects taken into account is the role of the body, feelings and senses in tourism.

The embodiment of the tourist experience

8“Being a tourist” assumes the dynamics of an on-the-road situation, permanent cultural exchanges and interactions between the participants of tourist encounters, as viewed from a performative perspective. Following the deliberations of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1996) concerning embodied practices, the fact that expressiveness is significant for the way individuals act is underlined (Crouch and Desforges, 2003). Space and practice become areas of numerous interactions that are axiologically marked. The everyday rituals, habits, including care for the body, are made to consolidate moments of “dwelling in travelling” (Clifford, 1992): drinking coffee in the morning, hygiene routines and beauty treatments, cooking and having meals together and many other activities that are also presented or evoked in the advertising films and on billboards which are analysed below.

9In the virtualised consumerist culture, the body is not just a mediator in the relationship with its surroundings, but it also becomes a kind of measure of the world’s authenticity and the measure of experiencing it. Pleasant and unpleasant sensations (sexual desire, physical activity, sunbathing, warmth, the chill of sea water, smells, tastes, touch) decide on what the account of one’s travel will be. As Urry (2009) states, the body is a link between a sensory way of experiencing the world and the semantic landscape which is mediated through discourse. Creators of advertisements refer to this rule and make tourists (and their narratives) the main characters of movies. This process is reflected in tourism discourse, which is the main impulse to “hit the road”; it is the source of anticipating sensations. People are portrayed in the realities of everyday life and in the enclaves of controlled entertainment, as well as against the background of architectural monuments and natural attractions. Aesthetic values of the location are often presented in motion associated with a tourist’s active behaviour (race/parcour in Warsaw, walking tour in Masuria, climbing, dancing in the Warsaw Old Town, etc.), and therefore, values experienced as astatic and with all the senses.

  • 1 John Urry has commented on this new approach to studies on tourism as follows: “the tourist experie (...)

10Paying attention to the embodiment of the tourist experience was a reason to search for new travel metaphors or to redefine the previously used ones (Owsianowska, 2011b; Salazar, 2014), for instance the metaphors that would not refer mainly to the sense of sight and looking at, but to participating, tasting and feeling, also in the context of heritage (Crouch and Desforges, 2003; Macdonald, 2013). Soile Veijola and Eeva Jokinen (1993) attempted to “reintroduce” the issues of corporeality to studies on tourism. In their critique of the well-known concept by Urry (1990), they point out that the mediating function of the body involves both the implementing expectations along with cultural patterns and questioning them, with transgressing what is conventional and obvious1.

  • 2 In spots for tourists from Asia, the main roles, according to the identical script, are played by a (...)

11Thus, tourist experience is basically a multisensual experience and creates the opportunity to become emotionally involved. Awareness of how important physicality and sensuality is, affects the transformation of hospitality rituals and the way they are presented in the tourist media. “Hospitality and eroticism share several structural and functional properties. Both are grounded in fields of physical relations, shaped and defined by social, as well as moral and cultural structures” (Andrews, Roberts and Selwyn, 2007, p. 248). Eroticism refers to the realm of feelings (love) and the realm of desire (Paz, 1993), and both aspects are present in the analysed campaigns. In advertising, a game is initiated, the objective of which is to saturate the message with references to both eroticism and hospitality. Senders act creatively and with irony; they make use of the ambiguity of words, phrases and images, and locate eroticising components in verbal and non-verbal messages (surroundings, colours, symbols, etc.). Constructing space is a meaningful aspect of making a place erotic, as well as the way men and women are portrayed and the relationship between them suggested in the scenery complements, either directly or by means of allusions. In the travellers’ narratives, there are stories about people who were met accidentally, and are linked by a mutual fascination, brief flirtation; sometimes they become companions during further travel (or even life?). Along with the profiles of the main characters: travelling as a couple, paying a visit to each other or meeting on the way; as many potential visitors as possible can identify with them and find a reason to visit Poland2.

New narrative strategies in tourism promotion of Poland (2004-2011)

12The research on the image of Poland at the beginning of 21st century focused on the country brand and destination competitiveness (Kuźmicki and Wasilewska, 2015; cf. Morgan, Pritchard and Pride, 2004), as well as the quantitative and qualitative analysis of travellers’ narratives about Poland (Johann, 2014). Prior to EU accession, one of Poland’s promotion main objectives was to emphasise that this is, and has always been, a country where European values are appreciated. After 2004, the most important challenge in shaping Poland’s image was to increase its presence in the foreign media, including promotion of the country as an attractive destination. According to Bartłomiej Walas, the director of POIT (Polish Centre of Tourist Information) in Paris at that time, “for the majority of foreigners who were not familiar with Poland, its image showed the country as poor, cold and distant”, while after paying their first visit to Poland, most of them regard it is a “close and attractive country, relatively cheap, and rapidly growing; they also emphasise the hospitality of the people and the tasty cuisine” (Promotion and shaping the image of Poland, 2005). Research on the qualitative image (focused group interviews with local residents and in-depth interviews with tour operators) conducted, among others, in France, Germany and the UK showed that the image of Poland can be regarded as “ambiguous and difficult to define”; the country was regarded as “distant, connected with history, little-known, more conservative, closed” (Johann, 2014). Positive associations involved beautiful landscapes, the growing economy and well-known Poles. It was not regarded as an attractive destination; city break trips and leisure tourism by the sea, at a lake (as far as Germany is concerned) were exceptions.

13As for the reception of promotional activities, it was only France, in which some people kept in mind the advertisement with the “Polish plumber”, but for most of the respondents, it was negatively rated. The “Welcome to Poland” promotional campaign in 2005 with “a muscular hunk in overalls brandishing a suggestive grey pipe at groin level, with scenes of Polish mountains and waterfalls in the background” (Rettman, 2005) was prepared when the issue of the European Constitution was being discussed. It turned out to be exciting since it was skilfully made into part of the public debate, it was provocative, and since the character of the handsome “plumber” was used who, contrary to expectations, stayed in Poland and invited foreigners to Poland. The Polish Tourist Organisation (PTO) decided to use “an icon” of various faults of Poles that were duplicated in Western European media. These faults were exhibited in fear of an uncontrollable influx of a cheap labour force from Central and Eastern Europe. Broadcasters of this advertisement attempted to transform the negative stereotype and the undesired image of the new EU member state inhabitants into a hilarious campaign to encourage visiting the sites of cultural and natural heritage. On the subsequent billboards, an attractive “nurse” promotes health tourism and spas (Photo 1). Both of them also starred in the social campaign to commemorate the fall of communism “Freedom for all” which referred to the Polish and European history after 1989.

Photo 1. “Polish plumber” and “Polish nurse” campaigns

Photo 1. “Polish plumber” and “Polish nurse” campaigns
  • 3 I would like to thank Dr. Carina Ren (Aalborg University, Denmark) for her comments given to me dur (...)
  • 4 Andrzej Kozlowski, the director of PTO at that time, was the originator but it was not an official (...)

14The increasing number of tourists arriving from France and other Western European countries (Report, Institute of Tourism, 2005) can be regarded as a measurable result of the campaign (although for many, the very fact of joining the EU was a sufficient reason for visiting the former socialist states). Despite criticism, the surprising and innovative idea was a kind of turning point towards the previous narrative on Poland; it was a strong counterpoint to the dominant representations of the country3. However, it did not offer any desired image. After all, the action discussed brought multiple benefits not sufficiently utilised, mainly because of its spontaneous and random nature4 and the absence of a long-term strategy and effectiveness (Nowak, 2014):

“... did not follow it up because we were unable to break through with information that we have more know-how than those required just for repairing taps and babysitting children. Who knew that it would be here and that the fall of communism would begin along with the election on June 4th? Who knew that we would double the GDP since 1989? Who knows that several prominent inventors of the present age led by excellent quality graphene inventors came from Poland?”

  • 5 Contradictory assessments of the effects of campaigns conducted since 2011 go beyond the subject of (...)

15The absence of a clear conception of how to operate at the central level and within various fields like culture, economy and tourism was the weakness of Polish promotion (Image research, 2011, p. 25). The project of long-term actions appeared a few years later when the opportunity of the EU Polish Presidency (2011) and the EURO 20125 organisation, jointly with Ukraine, arose.

  • 6 W. Ollins proposed the slogan ‘creative tensions’ to express the ambiguity and contradictions typic (...)

16The research conducted before the launch of a new campaign showed that for most of the interviewees, Poland had some associations, but “imponderable”: a distant, deeply religious country with a turbulent history, where “there are some interesting cities” (Image research, 2011). Although this is the homeland of Chopin, according to the respondents, music was never particularly significant in Poland. Poles were considered hard-working and friendly. The conclusions of research conducted in multiple countries allowed to define four groups, and each of them was dominated by a different image of Poland. In the first group, it is “not a really modern country” but “a little backward, religious, agricultural” and “a mainly tradition- and history-oriented country” while in the second, it is “a country with a double face”, “traditional and religious”, and at the same time, “free market-oriented, dynamically developing, attractive for investors”6. According to the opinion of the third group, it is “a modern, democratic country”, “dynamically developing” and “with good labour management”. Finally, in the fourth group, no clear image of Poland prevails, and it is a little-known country (Image research, 2011, p. 31-33), situated somewhere between the East and the West.

Romeo and Juliet in the country of polar bears or how to overcome a stereotype

17Since 2011, creators of official image campaigns coordinated by the PTO have referred to the contradictions, tension, and even collision existing between competing visions of Poland, values and identities (Abuselidze, Johann, 2012; Owsianowska, 2011a). They have emphasised the importance of tradition but they have also attempted to expose openness to the world and to others, as well as dynamics in striving for modernity. For most visitors, their trip to Poland was an opportunity to confront and change the stereotypical image of the country and its inhabitants (Report …, 2013). In the “Polska. Move Your Imagination” campaign, an attempt was made not only to attract the attention of the audience, but also to communicate as much information as possible regarding the different areas of life in the past and in our times, about the inventions and achievements of prominent Poles, from scientists and artists to athletes (Abuselidze, Johann 2012, p. 7).

“The main idea standing behind promoting tourism products and shaping the image of Poland as an attractive tourism destination is to stress the fact that Poland lies in the heart of Europe, on the border between the Eastern and Western world. (...) It is also recommended to take advantage of the positive stereotypes and encourage Polish people to act as ambassadors of Poland. The elements considered as most important in communicating the message include: vitality (energy and youth), culture (modernity and heritage), people (hospitality, beauty, creativity), physical beauty (diversity, regionality), health (cuisine, ecology, nature), cities and well known Polish people.

  • 7 Films “It Happenned in... Polska. Move your imagination”, 9:12, online.

18In the chosen elements of the “Polska. Move your Imagination” campaign: a series of animations with “aliens”, modelled on popular urban toys; a series of seven films7 (It Happened in ...) and a presentation that was available on the website of the PTO (Poland likes it!), their authors focused on shaping an image of Poland that involves the most important values (youth, love, freedom, friendship, music, creativity, passion) associated with cities, cultural and natural assets, historical events, prominent figures and lifestyles (Owsianowska, 2011a, 2014). Thanks to the combination of various tools and promotional techniques, Poland’s values are presented in an innovative and non-standard way, which has gained neither the experts’ nor the inhabitants’ universal acceptance. Although broadcasters of the message referred to the symbolism of Polish culture and markers of national identity, the message sometimes turned out to be insufficiently clear and coherent. Yet, they show how a stereotype can be ironically used in promoting the country – at the end of the sightseeing tour, the “aliens” – also looking for the polar bear – find only a man in disguise posing for photographs with tourists.

19Whereas the essence of creation in the “Feel Invited” campaign is referenced to the tourists’ narratives (Bruner, 2005; Meethan, 2006), as well as the turn towards the subjective negotiation of meanings that is made during a journey. “How many Poles does it take to convince you to come to Poland?” is asked in the spot, and answers are given by locals: the people attending sport or cultural mass events; friends during intimate meetings at home or at a café; a canoeing couple; several scouts on a trip to a national park; music fans, guitarists, participants of street theatre festivals or a beautiful girl at the seaside. Hospitality is the axis of the campaign’s message. Invitation to explore the country together, to celebrate important events, to experience nature, culture, cuisine becomes possible and more attractive through interactions with the residents playing both a role of a guide and a companion of a good time and memorable moments in life. In this case, the audience becomes familiar with Poland through the experience of different advertisement characters (Photo 2).

Photo 2. „Polska by Joe”

Photo 2. „Polska by Joe”

20“Polska. Come and Find your story”, or the so-called fairytale campaign, is also co-created with hospitality aspect. The project, based on of well-known fairy tales, literary and/or film stories (romantic, adventure), involves evoking positive emotions, mainly by idealised vision of childhood as a carefree time of fantasy, fun and feeling safe. However, the literary or cinematic sources are only used as an inspiration and both promoters and/or potential tourists can freely modify and reinterpret them (Owsianowska, 2014). Invitation to set out on a journey is associated with a promise “to find one’s own story”, to make her or his dreams come true. Another stereotype appears here: about meeting a princess or a prince and the country is a space where love stories unfold. Monuments, uncontaminated nature, clean and shiny streets, luxury shopping malls, elegant interiors, lighting, flowers, no random people make up a scenery of the storytellings, and, at the same time, they define perspective in which the tourist attraction and experience is set. Diverse means of expression do not diminish the significance of proven narrative strategies that pertain to universal human needs and the resulting reasons for travel. The romantic desire for adventure in a magical atmosphere of “fairy tales” for adults (both for male and female travellers) constitute the tourism discourse (Dann, 1996). Markers of Polishness are presented in a broader frame of interpretation, bound by techniques, whose task is image eroticisation by use of clothing, facial expressions, gestures, body posture, accompanying text, sounds and suchlike (Photo 3).

Photo 3. ”Polska. Come and find your story” campaign

Photo 3. ”Polska. Come and find your story” campaign


21The transformations that took place in Poland and other post-socialist countries after the fall of the “iron curtain” in the political, social, cultural and economic areas involved the tourism industry as well (Alejziak, 2011; Buchowski, 2001; Banaszkiewicz et al. 2017; Podemski, 2011). On the one hand, as a consequence, mobility of the citizens of “the new Europe” states was greatly increased, while on the other, foreign tourists became interested in the part of the continent that so far, was closed, little-known and “exotic” (Jafari, 2008). In connection with this broader economic, social and cultural changes after the collapse of communism, tourism promotion acted in multiple ways; among them, modification of the decades-rooted image of the region – and particular countries – may be considered the key function.

22Tourist imaginaries, visible through discourse of promotional campaigns of Poland issued from 2004 to 2015, play a crucial role in remaking the image of the destination. The appeal to love feelings, eroticism, sexuality and sensuality can be identified among other narrative and rhetoric techniques in tourist media. As a result of technological progress, there is a wealth of forms and means of expression, yet the well-tested narrative strategies continue to be used as they refer to universal human needs and motivations for travel. The review of recent image campaigns, shows promotional activities most of all designed to undermine the existing stereotypes and to reinforce and spread the new image of Poland. All strategies have been aimed at re-creating the image of Poland as a country of and for young people (regardless of their age, as it is explained in the presentation “Poland likes it!”, because “youth is the state of mind”), with vibrant culture, dynamic lifestyles and full of energy. In the film “Polska. Move your imagination”, a value is chosen as the most characteristic for each presented city or region (for example for Warsaw it is youth, while for Krakow love and for Mazuria Lake District – friendship). In other campaigns there are more refined, romantic and magical places which become a stage for a love story, happening amidst the landmarks or landscapes of a city/region. Moreover, the promoters evoke well-known fairy-tales or literature examples (Romeo and Juliet) to associate a place with love feelings and erotic connotations, the desire for adventure, transgression, happiness and pleasure.

23Investigating how these stories are constructed, makes it possible to identify less evident or latent aspects of promotional messages, the risk of reinforcing negative stereotypes, including gender patterns and unwanted images of people (especially women) and the country. For instance, characters such as princesses, princes or knights in “fairytale campaign” evoke traditional gender roles in patriarchal societies: females or princesses often adopt a passive and expectant approach, expressed by their bodies (Owsianowska, 2014). Another example might be the unfortunate promotion of Wrocław on the occasion of the city’s nomination for the European Capital of Culture 2016. In one of the official spots, a young Italian man is presented, who in order to come to this city is encouraged by the beauty of the female inhabitants, and the stay itself is limited to a series of meetings with nice girls. The spot met with criticism, not only for technical and professional reasons, but also because it did not really show the value of the city and the cultural tourist attractions. Residents did not agree on such a “primitive way” of “building the brand of Poland as a cultural capital”, through a sexist and chauvinistic message, fixing negative national and gender stereotypes (Wroclaw’s scandalous promotion, 2014). Nevertheless, this advertising can be treated as an exception, which has met with the resolute reaction of inhabitants and experts, raising ethical concerns about the content.

24This article exposes the marketing activities in which there are references to embodied tourist experiences, including feelings of love and eroticism, as the basis for shaping the image of places and people. In the analyzed campaigns there appear contradictory cultural patterns, evoking different value systems, lifestyles, attitudes, which could be placed on a continuum: conservative – liberal; nationalist – pro-European/cosmopolitan; modern – traditional; tolerant – xenophobic and so forth. What direction will the new tourist narratives set? The choice of promotional strategy depends on the decisions of the institutions responsible for tourism development at national and regional levels, but at present, it seems that some of the solutions proposed in the examined messages are not expected to be continued for ideological reasons. Pro-European voices are accompanied by the critical statements, even if the majority of Poles declare acceptance for European values of freedom, democracy, tolerance and the human rights. The government creates a new “historical policy” and the canon of significant sites, monuments and heroes of the past and the recent-history is subject to revision which might also affect tourist narratives, the choice ot signs and symbols of Polishness, and methods of promoting them in the future. The data of the survey on Poland’s image after 2012, namely after two major events, such as the EU Presidency in 2011 and EURO 2012, showed how the perception of the country by foreign tourists has improved (Report, 2013). The analysed campaigns were involved in this succesful effort, being also an expression of this side of Polish culture which opts for modernity, integration, respect and openness towards other people, their needs, lifestyles, memories and aspirations.

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1 John Urry has commented on this new approach to studies on tourism as follows: “the tourist experience always refers to the mutual relations of bodies that are, at least temporarily, in motion”. To highlight the discussed aspects of the physical movement, he later introduced the term “corporeal journey” and analysed different socio-spatial practices (e.g. marching, travelling by train or by car, flight) and their transformations in culture (Urry 2009, p. 76-94). In Polish literature, among others, Krzysztof Podemski (2005) and Anna Wieczorkiewicz (2008) joined in the discussion with Urry’s proposal.

2 In spots for tourists from Asia, the main roles, according to the identical script, are played by actors from countries covered by the campaign, i.e. Japan, China or India.

3 I would like to thank Dr. Carina Ren (Aalborg University, Denmark) for her comments given to me during our meeting in Cracow in 2007.

4 Andrzej Kozlowski, the director of PTO at that time, was the originator but it was not an official campaign of Poland.

5 Contradictory assessments of the effects of campaigns conducted since 2011 go beyond the subject of the article and will not be discussed (see e.g. Report... 2013).

6 W. Ollins proposed the slogan ‘creative tensions’ to express the ambiguity and contradictions typical for the Polish people and reality.

7 Films “It Happenned in... Polska. Move your imagination”, 9:12, online.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Photo 1. “Polish plumber” and “Polish nurse” campaigns
Fichier image/jpeg, 232k
Titre Photo 2. „Polska by Joe”
Fichier image/jpeg, 228k
Titre Photo 3. ”Polska. Come and find your story” campaign
Fichier image/jpeg, 384k
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Sabina Owsianowska, « “Come and find your (love) story”.  », Via [En ligne], 11-12 | 2017, mis en ligne le 14 mai 2018, consulté le 23 mai 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/viatourism.1772

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Sabina Owsianowska

PhD, Faculty of Tourism and Leisure, University of Physical Education in Krakow, Poland

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