- When the first travel agencies were established in Poland, tourists mainly spent their holidays in the country
- Until 1972, travel abroad was possible thanks to “passport inserts”, which were valid with the identity card
- Poles traveled most often by trains and coaches, many also drove Fiat 126p
- More such information can be found on the main page of Onet.pl
Orbis was the first Polish travel agency. It was founded in Lviv in 1923. In 1928, Orbis obtained the status of a national travel agency, and in 1933, after the shares were bought by the state bank PKO, the company’s seat was moved to Warsaw. Orbis has grown into the largest Polish travel agency. In 1939 it had 155 national missions and foreign representations, including in Vienna, London, Paris and New York. Over time, new offices were established, such as POLTUR, founded in 1928 by the Polish Tourist and Leisure Association “Gromada”, or Spółdzielnia Turystyczno-Wypoczynkowa “Gromada”, founded in 1937. The latter numbered more than 100 in its heyday. tourist offices.
Poles, however, mainly focused on recreation on land. There were financial problems, but also formalities. – Until 1972, travel abroad was possible thanks to “passport inserts”, which were valid with the identity card. Thanks to the possession of this document and the permission to leave, it was possible to enter European socialist countries for a certain time. However, in the late 1970s, a passport was introduced, ie a document that allowed travel to Western countries, which was valid for several years and could be kept at home. Therefore, the creation of passports can be considered a symbolic time for Poland and Poland to open up to holidays abroad – recalls Dominika Czechowska, tourism expert at WSB University in Gdańsk.
Mainly the Eastern Bloc
Over the years, more offices have been added. In 1957: travel and tourism office “Almatur” and foreign tourism office “Juventur” – both serving the academic youth segment. When it comes to abroad, Poles most often traveled to the Eastern Bloc: Bulgaria, Romania, Crimea, Hungary or Yugoslavia.
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– Later, travel agencies flourished, offering very affordable trips to Egypt, Turkey and Greece. These included Alfa Star and Triada offices – now best known for their bankruptcy announcements. One of my first trips to Egypt was from Alfa Star to Dahab. 20 years ago it was a small seaside town. Now it is a huge resort with beautiful hotels, especially recognizable by the excellent diving conditions – notes Dominika Czechowska.
How did the Poles travel? – Mostly by trains and coaches, but I think it is worth mentioning the most interesting mode of travel, which is a trip with a toddler – the Polish Fiat 126p. Due to the small space in the trunk, all the holiday gear was placed on the roof, which looked like a pyramid. It took two days for a one-way ticket, and after reaching the place you often took advantage of the opportunity to pitch a tent next to a “two-storey toddler”. Traveling in a small Fiat was also risky because spare parts were not immediately available and in the event of a breakdown it was not known when you would reach your final destination. Poles most often went to Romania or Yugoslavia in Fiats, where camping culture also flourished thanks to these trips. – says Dominika Czechowska.
Today, only memories remain after many popular travel agencies. Orbis was split in 1991. In 2010, the part dealing with tourism – Orbis Travel, filed for bankruptcy. Today Orbis is a group that invests in hotel real estate. It has 73 hotels, 63 owned and 10 rented (more than 14,000 rooms in total), in 6 countries in the region: Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. Orbis’ strategic investor is AccorInvest. After Orbis collapsed in 2012, Triada, which has been in the market since 1992, fell in 2015. The Alfa Star office ceased operations in 2015. The bankruptcy left 1.6 thousand people outside the country. Polish tourists.
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The Pack managed to survive. The National Tourist Cooperative “Gromada” carries out tourist and hotel activities. It manages 11 hotels and has travel agencies in different parts of Poland. The travel and tourism office “Almatur” and the foreign tourism office for young people “Juventur” are also still active. Among the customers of these offices, there are still people who remember what it was like to go on holiday in a Fiat 126p.