Polish Congress Ambassadors Gala acknowledging the latest laureates of the programme and officially announcing new jury members for 2020-2023 was hosted by the city of Katowice. In addition, it marked the launch of the National Support Programme for the Meetings Industry to be implemented by Polish Tourism Organisation and Polish Airlines LOT.
The International Congress Centre in Katowice hosted participants of this year’s Polish Congress Ambassadors Gala, which on 21 October announced the programme’s latest winners. Jury members decided to present 18 titles of Polish Congress Ambassador and 3 titles of Polish Congress Patron to institutions that last year were particularly focused on supporting the organisation of conferences and congresses. Also presented during the Gala, this year’s Gala Patron statuette went to the MPT Group in recognition of technological and logistics support provided to the previous edition.
Having hosted the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in 2018, Katowice received a special distinction due to its contribution to the development of the Śląskie (Silesia) region. Arranged by the MPT Group, the event in question was attended by 20,000 participants.
Members of the new Jury of the Polish Congress Ambassadors Programme, implemented in partnership with Polish Tourism Organisation (Polska Organizacja Turystyczna - POT) and Polish Conference and Congress Association (Stowarzyszenie Konferencje i Kongresy w Polsce - SKKP), were also introduced during the Katowice meeting. Supervising the course and execution of the Polish Congress Ambassadors Programme, the jury selects individuals distinguished by the Honorary Polish Congress Ambassador title and institutions distinguished by the Polish Congress Patron title. Jury members are appointed for a three-year term by President of Polish Tourism Organisation and President of Polish Conference and Congress Association. Upon the motion of Robert Andrzejczyk, President of POT, and Paula Fanderowska, President of SKKP, Prof. Marek Pewełczyk, Vice Rector for Science and Development at Silesian University of Technology, was unanimously voted the Jury Chairman for 2020-2023.  
In addition, the Polish Congress Ambassadors Gala in Katowice witnessed the inauguration of the National Support Programme for the Meetings Industry. Run together by Polish Tourism Organisation and Polish Airlines LOT, the project is intended to promote Poland abroad by offering airline tickets to representatives of science, culture, sports, business and other circles, so that they could actively participate in the process of bringing international business meetings and events to Poland.
During the Programme’s launch Robert Andrzejczyk, President of Polish Tourism Organisation, emphasised that the meetings industry is a so-called sector of the future that already today generates about 1% of the national gross domestic product. “The growth of this sector is among the key promotional priorities of Polish Tourism Organisation, with Poland Convention Bureau (PCB) supporting our operations. This is why we are glad to have the backing of our national carrier PLL LOT”.
The Vice President of Polish Airlines LOT also drew attention to the significance of this field and declared his involvement in the development of this sort of initiatives. “LOT will work on expanding its offer aimed at the MICE sector. We are going to increase our share in the discussed market and together with Poland Tourism Organisation support Poland’s promotion among meeting planners. The National Support Programme is among the initiatives that will help make this happen”, explained Michał Fijoł, Chief Commercial Officer, Polish Airlines LOT.
The Polish Congress Ambassadors Programme keeps on growing. This year the group of 252 Ambassadors has been joined by successive 18 individuals hailing from various cities and representing various research facilities. The cities in question are distinguished by prominent academic centres aspiring to actions aimed at building their own brands as MICE destinations and placing emphasis on the development of local clubs. The annual meeting of the industry and scientific community in Katowice thus became an opportunity to announce the establishment of four Congress Ambassador Clubs. Kraków, Warsaw, Wrocław and Poznań officially formalised their partnership and entered agreements between POT, SKKP and local convention bureaux. Venue operators also co-create the clubs (MPT, operator of Poznań International Fair, in Poznań; KBF, operator of ICE Kraków, in Kraków).
“Heretofore local experiences show that the synergy of academic potential, the institutional support of local government and the establishment of a platform for cooperation with the business community constitute the right path to accomplishing the goal of boosting the number of congresses and conferences and a significant development of the meetings industry”, claimed Paula Fanderowska, President of Polish Conference and Congress Association. She also expressed her hope that the Ambassador Local Clubs project will keep expanding.
As usual, organisers of the Polish Congress Ambassadors Gala managed to arrange and implement two side events. On Monday, the Silesia Meetings Challenge conference was organised by Polish Conference and Congress Association and officially opened by Agnieszka Jędrzejczyk-Wojciechowska, Vice President of Polish Tourism Organisation. A presentation kicking off the discussion was given by Teresa Buczak, Head of POT’s Department of Strategy and Marketing. Talks focused on growth perspectives of the Silesian meetings industry and stressed the significance of initiatives such as the creation of Local Ambassador Clubs that can effectively secure events for a given city and region. Aneta Książek, Chief Conference Expert with Poland Convention Bureau, took part in one of the panel discussions.
A day after the Polish Congress Ambassadors Gala, a meeting of destination marketing organisations representing cities and regions was attended by delegates of convention bureaux from Warsaw, Kraków, Wrocław, Poznań, Katowice, as well as Lublin, Toruń and Łódź plus special guests from Gdynia (Gdynia Municipality) and the region of Śląskie (Silesian Tourist Organisation). The sessions also involved Marta Wiśniewska, MICE Section Manager, Sales Support Department, Polish Airlines LOT, and Paula Fanderowska, President of Polish Conference and Congress Association. The discussion was centred on topics connected with the National Support Programme for the Meetings Industry and operations of Local Ambassador Clubs.
“The new objective of local clubs will be to support and secure beneficiaries of the National Support Programme for the Meetings Industry. We are looking forward to this cooperation and hope that the Programme will encourage our sector to boost the effectiveness of actions aimed at bringing events to Poland. Programme-related details will be submitted by Local Congress Ambassador Clubs, at regional meetings attended by representatives of PCB POT and PLL LOT”, added Aneta Książek, Chief Conference Expert, Poland Convention Bureau.
The Polish Congress Ambassadors Gala was held under the honorary patronage of Anna Krupka, Secretary of State with the Ministry of Sport and Tourism.
The Polish Congress Ambassadors Gala was organised by the city of Katowice, Polish Tourism Organisation and Polish Conference and Congress Association.
The next edition of the event will be staged in the Muzyczny Theatre in Gdynia on 7 October 2020.