With the UEFA 2012 tournaments well underway, tourism officials in both Poland and Ukraine have reported a surge in interest among both destinations as they welcome football fans from all over Europe.
Hundreds of thousands more visitors and football fans are also expected before the final, on July 1st in Kiev.
As the second most prestigious international tournament after the World Cup, The European Championship one of the sport’s biggest events in the world
The UEFA EURO-2012 matches are being played in eight new stadiums, four in Poland – Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw – and four in Ukraine – Donetsk,
Lviv, Kharkiv and Kyiv.
The highly anticipated final match will take place in Kiev on July 1.
Kiev expects about 350,000 fans alone at the stadium during the five matches.
The rest of the fans, who will not get to the stadium, will feel the festival spirit in the official fan zone, the capacity of which will reach up to 100,000.
Thus, during the entire period of holding EURO 2012 the capital will be visited by nearly half a million fans.
Alongside the capital, Lviv, Donetsk, and Kharkiv in Ukraine – have been welcoming large numbers of football fans from all over Europe.
Supporters from as far afield as Sweden, France, Portugal, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands are expected in Ukraine for the group matches, joining thousands of sports fans from the host nation.
Boryspil International Airport received some 87,220 passengers during the first three days of the event, 18 per cent more than the same period last year.
Government officials from Ukraine revealed they expect 800,000 - 1.2 million tourists through the duration of the tournament, each staying for about three - four nights and spending $1,000.
“Ukraine is expected to see growth of between 30 per cent and 40 per cent in its international visitor arrivals this year,” Ukrainian tourism chief Alona Shapovalova told revealed.
More than 73.8% of Ukraine’s UEFA EURO 2012 investments were related to the transport infrastructure modernization (urban transport, roads, railways and airports).
Poland, too, has been preparing to greet as many as one million fans during the three week tournament.
New stadiums sit alongside huge Fan Zones across the country, including the area around the Place of Culture in Warsaw.
Here six giant screens and two temporary stands have been erected to welcome 100,000 football fans to the largest in Fan Zone in Poland or Ukraine.
Other host cities in Poland - the Baltic port of Gdansk, south-western Wroclaw and western Poznan – are reaping the benefits of being in the spotlight.
Hotels are booked up across the board, with many fans resorting to camping in tent cities close to stadiums – such is the demand.
In Gdansk a 1,800-capacity passenger ferry, which usually travels each day between the Baltic Sea port and Swedish capital Stockholm, will stay docked on match days to serve as a floating hotel.
Poland’s infrastructure spending has also received a 110 billion zloty (about €25.6 billion) boost for the UEFA EURO 2012 with approximately 63 billion zloty being spent on road construction.
Investment in hotels also increased. According to Polish statistics, 1,300 rooms have been added during last three years.
Looking to the future
Both Poland and Ukraine are expected to reap the benefits brought by the Euro 2012 for years to come, as the destinations have invested thousands into their infrastructure, as well as being in the spotlight.
The EURO 2012 project has acted as a catalyst for many changes the UEFA cities with many new facilities that are expected to serve for 20-30 years.
In each hosting city, new airport terminals were built, including new runways in all cities except Kiev.
New high-speed Hyundai railway trains linked the host cities – Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv and Donetsk.
Ukraine’s vice PM and minister for infrastructure Borys Koleskikov revealed, “The government has built international airports, the business has built hotels. Now our joint task is to fill these hotels constantly. We must make Ukraine a centre of business and tourist attraction”.
Whichever team is victorious in the games, both host countries are already winners since international and national tourists are flocking stadiums in host cities.
Mobile guides in place for host cities
Mobile web development company World Mobi Limited recently unveiled eight free city guides for Poland and Ukraine, which are quick to download and easy to use.
Each unique mobile guide, which can be run on mobile devices, smartphone browsers or desktops, includes extensive information ranging from accommodations, to restaurants, shopping, nightlife, and transport. In addition there is emergency information to hand.
Other innovative features which travellers can tap into to maximise their experience, include currency converters translating tools as well as web links and contact details for featured services and stadium details for the Euro venues.