Warmia-Mazury region (Poland) aiming towards the well-being of seniors

Thursday, September 26, 2013

In September 2013 TOURage partnership met in Elblag and Warmia-Mazury region in Poland, to evaluate good practices retaining they should be transferable and suitable to promote senior tourism in remote regions of Europe. Several places were visited and TOURage team was expressed by different kinds of activities targeted to promote senior tourism.

Team members were introduced with an impressive tourism object in the region – Elblag Canal which attracts around 100 000 visitors every year. Although the Canal is under reconstruction at the moment, insights were created to realize it uniqueness and strong attractiveness. While having a trip with the ship over the green hills connecting several lakes, tourists are invited to bird watching and pay more attention to the nature and its eco-system. Lot of German tourists have become attached to this tourism object while they visit Elblag to remember parentage. Further information on Elblag Canal:

The Miłomłyn Hotel Medical Spa and Vitality is a three-star hotel located in the Warmia Lake District and promotes healthy lifestyle through a series of services and procedures (spa, medical rehabilitation and diagnostics, sporting activities, etc.) targeting different groups, also seniors. Hotel is being specialized on different therapies and massages, and especially on diet programmes. The place offers swimming pool, gymnastics, and different sport opportunities (beach volley, Nordic walking, etc.) as well as medical services. The spa services are not only offered for guests but for local public as well. The hotel part offers elevators for disabled people, 5 rooms especially designed for people with disabilities. More information on Miłomłyn Zdrój Hotel: (only in Polish)

Gietrzwald was established in 1352 (as Dietrichswald) and located 20 kilometres away from Olsztyn, the capital of Warmia-Mazury Region. In the year 1877, according to the Catholics, Virgin Mary revealed to two little girls, Barbara Samulowska and Justyne Szafryńska. Virgin Mary appeared for several times, spoke Polish (this fact is important, as during that time Poland was under the German occupation), and explained how important it is to pray and say the rosary. Since then, pilgrims from Poland and foreign countries, have been coming to Gietrzwałd to see the picture of Virgin Mary and a miracle spring. The town is now an official pilgrim area. Currently 500 people are living in the village and 6000 in the surrounding. Each year 1 million tourists visit the Village, the largest event is on 8 September each year. Currently the Regular Lutherans are operating the basilic.

The village try to provide the necessary tourist infrastructure for pilgrims: the Cultural Centre operates as a Tourist Information Center, the parking facilities and related services are under reconstruction currently, and a new Gietrzwald Gardens park was created. Even in the school a local heritage collection was created to offer it for visitors. Besides public investments, also Dutch and Belgian hotel investors are present in the area, offering 3000 bedplaces. More investment would be necessary in accessibility solutions, especially the Basilic is hardly accessible for all age groups and for disabled people. Further information on Gietrzwald Commun:

The city also offeres uniques gastronomic offer. The Anders Hotel group is operating the Warmian Karchma in Gietrzwald. The place offers regional specialities, and different thematic programmes, and menus. It is an additional and useful service related to the pilgrimage village.Further information on Warmian Karchma at:

During the trip to Olsztyn, the region and its capital was shortly presented. Warmia-Mazury Region is comprising of 116 communes, 49 citizen towns. They are sctructured in 19 counties and 2 county rank cities (Olsztyn and Elblag). The agriculuture, the forestry, the environmental reserves are the basis of regional economy, not many heavy industrial activities are in the region. The region is having the largest number of Ukrainian minorities in Poland as a result of Operation Vistula in WWII.

Olsztyn, the capital city of Warmia-Mazury Region is located on the banks of  Vina river. It was founded by Theutonic Knights in 1346. It got its city rights in 31 October 1353. Copernicus was lived in the castle built in 135 from 1516 to 1521. He was not only an astronomist,  ut also an administrator of the city.

The old town of the city was reconstructed after the WWII. Several universities operating in the city, altogether having more than 35000 students. The Planetarium (2nd largest in Poland) was opened in 1973 for the 500th anniversary of the birth of Copernicus. More information on Olsztyn:

During the visit in the Planetarium of Olsztyn Alicja Rutecka, Director of the Department of Sport of the City of Olsztyn presented  the Senior Games of Warmia-Mazury. The idea was coming from the Netherlands (Zeeland). The event is not only on the promotion of sports for senior (45+) people, but also an exchange of experience activity between international partners. There are many accompanying events (social, cultural), and also education on and promotion of sport is a target. In 2012 the event was organized for the first time having more han thousand participants in the age of 40-82. Currenly they are preparing for the 2014 games which will be organized in 21-24 August 2014. The financing is provided by the region, by the involved cities, Ministry of Sport and Tourism, sponsors and participant feed (50-60 ZL/person). Further information: (the domain name expired on 10 October 2013)

Active Olsztyn programme was presented by Olsztyn City representative. This year the 4th edition will be organized having 25 activities, and expecting more than 15 thousand participants (last year data). The budget is 391 million ZL. The programmes are opened for all generations. Although there is not a specific goal to include seniors in the activities. Further information:

Partnership of Warmia-Mazury Thematic Villages (“Places with the Soul”) was presented by Wojciech Pałka, President of the partnership of villages. There are 10 thematic villages involved, offering different thematic programmes (village of angels, children, emperor, pirates, grandmother etc.). The Gp is based on voluntary work, and NGO resources. Further information: (available only in Polish)

FOSa (Federation of Social Organisations) and its initiative Silver Sharing was presented by its President, Bartłomiej Głuszak. They are operating as an umbrella organization for 17 organisations (elderly, poor, children). Main task is interest representation, but they are running a regional programme for developing voluntary work (official regional programme of Warmia-Mazury) and the Academy of Third Age of Warmia-Mazury. Within the federation a specific sub-network is created for senior issues. Silver sharing is based on similar high school exchange programmes, currently 24 people involved. The idea respond to that need of senior, that they are more active, and having better language and financial capacities. Testing period is running currently, expecting some useful experiences. FOSa want to establish a European network with one operator in each country. Further information: (available only in Polish), (booked, but not operating)

About: TOURAGE is the new project financed by the European Regional Development Fund and made possible by INTERREG IVC programme and it was one of the 82 approved applications among the 355 proposall of the 4th call. It collaborates 12 partners from Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic and Spain. The Lead partner for the project is Regional Council of North Karelia (Finland).



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