This semester, the BS Travel & Tourism Management field trip "Destination Marketing: European Wonders" provided AUR students with the opportunity to delve into the world of cultural and heritage tourism in Kraków, Poland. Known as a city of literature and art, Kraków received the prestigious designation of UNESCO Creative City in the field of literature in 2013.
As one of Poland's oldest cities and a treasure trove of national cultural heritage, Kraków holds a prominent place as one of the most splendid cultural capitals worldwide. The Historic Centre of Kraków showcases the city's continuous urban growth from the Middle Ages to the present day, comprising three distinct urban ensembles: the medieval chartered City of Kraków, the Wawel Hill complex, and the historic Jewish district of Kazimierz.
Led by Professor Anna Sasso, AUR students embarked on a remarkable journey, meeting with the City of Kraków Department of Tourism and the Department of Culture and National Heritage. These meetings offered valuable insights into sustainable cultural heritage tourism marketing strategies in Kraków. Moreover, the students had the privilege of visiting three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Historic Center of Krakow, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978 for its exceptional urban architectural ensemble; Auschwitz-Birkenau, a complex of German Nazi concentration camps, also inscribed in 1979; and the Wieliczka Salt Mine, which showcases the historic development of mining techniques in Europe, dating from the 13th to the 20th centuries.
THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE
Kraków through the eyes of Aurora Till, TTM Sophomore
As a TTM sophomore, I have always been fascinated by the Travel and Tourism industry. It is an industry that revolves around human emotion and experience. I firmly believe that our experiences shape who we are, and through travel, we carry cherished memories with us throughout our lives.
Over a year ago, I decided to apply to The American University of Rome because I craved real-world experiences. I yearned for a learning environment that would allow me to not only acquire knowledge but also apply it to the real world.
The Travel and Tourism Management program at The American University of Rome has implemented a series of one-credit courses centered around lesser-known UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe. These courses offer invaluable opportunities for students interested in the tourism sector or passionate about travel to experience these destinations within an academic setting.
In Kraków, after dropping off our belongings at the hostel, we grabbed a quick coffee and indulged in Muszkieter, a traditional Polish bakery delight. This marked my first taste of Polish cuisine, which did not disappoint! The group walked to the old town to meet with the City of Krakow Department of Tourism & the Department of Culture and National Heritage. On the way to our meeting, our group's first glimpse of the buzzing square took my breath away. Krakow’s square "Rynek Glówny" is beautiful & breathtaking. As the biggest Medieval Market square in Europe, it is a source of commerce, tradition, and local community. What I found most striking were the beautiful St. Mary's Basilica’s (Kościół Mariacki) towers.
Meeting with the City of Krakow Department of Tourism & the Department of Culture and National Heritage: One of the advantages of going on academic field trips is the opportunity to do things you usually wouldn't have done as a tourist. Friday, we were given two separate presentations by two city departments. First, the Department of Tourism, followed by a meeting with the Department of Culture and National Heritage. As someone who aspires to work in the tourism sector after graduating, I appreciated listening to their input. It felt like "privileged insider information."
After an information-packed day, meetings with the Krakow Department of Tourism, the Department of Culture and National Heritage, a guided tour of Kazimierz (The Jewish Ghetto of Krakow), and a meeting with FestivALT, an independent Jewish artists' cultural organization that produces critically minded Jewish art and activism in Kraków, the day was almost over. Our group gathered at a local restaurant, Marchewka Z Groszkiem, to experience traditional Polish food.
Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum through the eyes of Adrian Jarrett de Leon, Business Administration Senior
Standing at the entrance of Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi concentration and extermination camp, I couldn't help but feel a deep sense of humility and reflection. The words "Arbeit macht frei" – "Work sets you free" – loomed above me, a chilling reminder of the atrocities that took place within these walls. This visit was not only a personal pilgrimage but also an opportunity to reflect on the lessons we can learn from history and the importance of never forgetting the past.
The sheer scale of Auschwitz was overwhelming. Walking through the vast complex, I was struck by the enormity of the human tragedy that unfolded here. It was a stark reminder of the power of ideas and the consequences of unchecked hatred. As an innovator and entrepreneur, I've always believed in the power of ideas to change the world. But standing in Auschwitz, I was reminded that ideas can also lead to unimaginable suffering when they are rooted in hatred and prejudice.
In the face of such darkness, I was also struck by the resilience of the human spirit. Amidst the horrors of Auschwitz, there were countless stories of courage, hope, and resistance. These stories testify to the indomitable human spirit and our capacity to overcome even the most unimaginable adversity.
Visiting Auschwitz also reinforced my belief in the power of empathy and the importance of standing up against injustice. I've always believed that empathy is the foundation of any successful team or organization. It's the ability to put ourselves in another's shoes and understand their feelings, thoughts, and perspectives. In the context of Auschwitz, empathy takes on an even greater significance. It's a reminder that we must never forget the suffering of others and that we have a responsibility to stand up against hatred and prejudice wherever we find it.
As I left Auschwitz, I felt a renewed sense of purpose and determination. The lessons of this place are not just about the past; they are about the present and the future. We must never forget the atrocities that occurred here, but we must also use these lessons to build a better world – a world where empathy, understanding, and love triumph over hatred and prejudice.
Wieliczka Royal Salt Mine in the Eyes of Nana Davitashvili, TTM Senior
Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage since 1978, is truly mesmerizing. The tourist route we went through seemed to be vast, although our tour guide Dorothy informed us that it only accounts for 2% of the entire mine. The mine is spectacular for its history, mining technology, and complex design that dates to the Middle Ages. It can be described as a small underground world with many chambers, carvings, sculptures, and chapels. The showstopping St Kinga’s Chapel resembles a huge ballroom completely decorated with salt-carved rendering paintings such as the Last Supper and chandeliers. I was surprised to learn that the cathedral is often booked for weddings. Wieliczka Salt Mine is a successful example of how once active salt mine can be repurposed for a tourist attraction.