The picturesquely situated Nowy Sącz region has attracted visitors from all over the country for years. But there is more to it than just the environmental conditions. The region’s potential is much larger and making proper use of it has been discussed for years here. Finally, the time has come to take action. The driving force behind it will be the HORYZONT 360 Foundation, established by businessman Andrzej Wiśniowski.

The need for a tourism and economic recovery of the Nowy Sącz region has been discussed here for many years now. Particularly when it comes to using the potential of its greatest treasure, which is Lake Rożnów. Thanks to the recent investments carried out around the lake, the formerly busy tourist traffic is slowly returning here. However, without an integrated development concept, integration of local entities, cooperation with the authorities, and effective activities of all the stakeholders, the task will be extremely difficult.
To use the chance that the region has and support those who determine its power and uniqueness is the task of the HORYZONT 360 Foundation. Its founder, businessman and local patriot Andrzej Wiśniowski has the best interest of the region at heart. Seeing the huge hidden and still untapped potential of the lake, as well as the inhabitants of the Nowy Sącz region, he decided to establish an organisation whose ultimate goal will be to support and shape the socioeconomic development within the area.
“The Nowy Sącz region has something that is unique in Małopolska, namely Lake Rożnów. This is surely the driving force for further dynamic socioeconomic development of the Nowy Sącz subregion,” says the founder of the foundation, Andrzej Wiśniowski. He also emphasises the significance of environmental protection and activities related to minimising pollution. “Our little homeland, compared by many to the regions of Tuscany or the vicinity of Lake Garda, delights visitors, who often return to these picturesque landscapes,” he adds.
The Foundation was officially registered at the end of 2016 and its name (HORIZON 360 in English) is symbolic. “The name refers to the archetype of the circle, 360 degrees (the perfect shape) and the horizon – a line which has always set the course of action, the right perspective. Broad horizons of thinking about local, economic, environmentally friendly, and above all innovative issues are the Foundation’s chief assets. The region is characterised by natural wealth, unique, yet forgotten traditions, and beautiful architecture. But above all, by the diligence and resourcefulness of its inhabitants. The combination of these aspects and orientation at a consistent horizon can only be crowned with spectacular success,” says Anna Węgrzyn, Vice-President of the Foundation. She also adds that the issue of desilting the lake is still not taken seriously enough by local and regional authorities. Paradoxically, the problem does not lie in the lack of funds, but in different “priorities”, which push the lake to the far margin.

Flavours rediscovered

One of the Foundation’s first projects is the establishment of a cooperation network of local producers and inventorying the products they make. The Nowy Sącz region can boast many young and talented producers who cultivate family traditions and save the region’s original flavours from oblivion in the privacy of their homes. In order to establish cooperation, it is important to ensure their integration and create a space for the exchange of knowledge and experience, where they could meet and prepare a joint development and promotion plan.
This is why the Foundation organised a series of business meetings for them. The first one was held by certified business coach Nikodem Zegzda, who inspired the participants to take action and keep improving the quality of their companies’ operation in order to achieve specific goals and profits. The next one was combined with a tasting panel, during which local producers presented their products. Some of them will probably become a permanent item on the menu of the Heron Hotel in Sienna as a base for the dishes prepared by the chef. Others might appear at the hotel’s boutique, so that the guests are able to take a part of the local culture home with them.
There are lots of regional varieties of plants and forgotten local dishes. The Foundation wants these old flavours to come to life and both the locals and visitors to recall the unique flavour of the suska sechlońska plum or the Sweet White Runner Bean, among others. This is why the production of a catalogue of local dishes and attractions is planned. Information about them is also supposed to appear along tourist routes and on the blog kept by the Foundation.
“The region’s potential to attract tourists lies in its cuisine. Many visitors ask about local flavours and producers. The trend for eating healthy and being fit has also spurred interest in the regional food among the locals. This is a good sign, as the statistics concerning our health to date were not too optimistic. Lack of exercise and wrong diet became an increasingly common cause of problems with blood circulation, sometimes with tragic effects. Raising awareness about the region’s offering will also help improve these results,” says Anna Węgrzyn.

A network of local opportunities

The integration of producers and promotion of regional products is just a part of the HORYZONT 360 Foundation’s larger project. “The Foundation’s current activity will focus on creating and preparing the concept of tourism and recreational development around Lake Rożnów, as well as animating the local community. We are planning to integrate people and entities operating around the lake in order to create a local tourism cluster,” reveals Monika Bochenek, member of the Foundation’s Board. “The cluster will make it possible to create a uniform and comprehensive tourist product that is Lake Rożnów,” she adds.
The cluster will create the image of the lake within the Małopolska (Lesser Poland) Voivodeship, across Poland, and abroad, and it will contribute to increasing the number of tourists visiting the area, extending the time of their stay, and consequently, increasing revenues from tourism. Moreover, it will function as a coordinator in the process of building a common tourism and recreational offering, as well as an initiator of activities involving the expansion of proper infrastructure.
Local authorities from around Lake Rożnów, as well as local entrepreneurs and non-governmental organisations declared their readiness to cooperate within the cluster. The most important tasks that they face include ensuring sufficient attractiveness of the area for tourists and investments. This can be achieved by maintaining a good condition of the natural environment and educating locals about its protection. Investments in waterworks, a sewage system, power plants, and roads, but above all in the desiltation of the lake, which is becoming smaller and smaller each year, are also necessary. Supporting new business entities and creating proper investment conditions for them is of equal significance. It is these comprehensive activities, implemented in cooperation with all the stakeholders, that will make it possible to revive the Nowy Sącz region. Not only in terms of tourism, but also the economy.

By: Justyna Kowalczyk