The Belarusian Border Situation Has Impacted Local Polish Businesses
During the last two months, the crisis at the Polish-Belarus border has gotten worse. Over ten thousand migrants have attempted to cross into Poland from Belarus. To keep refuges out, the Polish government deployed thousands of troops to its border, erected checkpoints and razor wire fences, and declared a state of emergency.
The crisis at the Belarusian border has had a huge impact on local Polish businesses. As a result of the border standoff between Poland and Belarus, many Polish businesses reliant on tourism have suffered. As winter approaches, the crisis doesn't appear to be abating anytime soon.
It is not widely known that Poland has an ancient Muslim community. In the extreme northeast of Poland, on the border with Belarus, this Tartar town relies heavily on tourism and has two mosques. Confronted with Warsaw's state of emergency, it has been suffering from violence.
Polish authorities have extended for another 60 days the 30-day state of emergency imposed near the Belarus border in early September. Civilians who are not residents of the area are now prohibited from entering the area. The Polish administration stated that the action is intended to reduce the number of illegal crossings, referring to migrants primarily from the Middle East who are sent over the border by Belarusian authorities.
Ironically, many of the migrants entering Poland are Muslims. Muslims in the village of Kruszyniany will not be able to enter the mosque due to a no-go zone established by Polish authorities to halt the influx of migrants. This traditional wooden village in Poland is effectively cut off from the rest of the nation by an idyllic rural backdrop.
Boarder Restriction Negatively Affect Local Economy
This restriction has a huge impact on the local population's earnings, in fact, they are almost being deprived of their livelihood due to this restriction. Tourism accounts for the majority of the local economy. It is not any better in the surrounding border areas. In the areas a few kilometers from the border, tourism still takes place, but it is slow. Due to the state of emergency imposed by the Polish authorities in September, visitors are reluctant to come to this part of Poland.
While most of the residents in this area are struggling financially, they are actively gathering clothes, blankets, and food for each other. Bookings to this region have been canceled by tourists from Western Europe. In addition, locals are witnessing empty restaurants and shops, as they have never seen this much quiet in the area before. The long wooden houses and eateries of Budy, a village mostly made up of wooden houses, are all closed.
Agritourism has also been a hard hit. Local farmers and agritourism operators are concerned for the migrants, both out of compassion and because the situation is bad for business.
First, it was Covid-19, which had an impact on people's earnings, and now it's the migrant crisis from Poland and Belarus. The current scenario has also made cross-border trade difficult and has brought tourism to a halt.
Compensation is Insufficient
Polish lawmakers passed a bill last month on compensation for businesses operating in areas of emergency. It includes people who run agritourism farms, as well as companies in the tourism and catering industries. Businesses will be entitled to 65% of their average monthly income for the three months preceding state of emergency, i.e. June, July, and August. A previous report recommended extending this support to 80%.
It was initially difficult for local business owners to accept government compensation because they believed it was inadequate. They demanded that the authorities payout 80% of all victims' compensation. In response to pressure from local residents and opposition, the government is now willing to pay more than originally planned.
The Compensation also discarded proposals for compensation of companies that transport tourists, run souvenir shops, and sell groceries, as well as support for companies in the entertainment and recreation sectors. Several festivals, including Three Cultures and Pop up City in Woldawa and Terspol, have been cancelled due to this ongoing crisis. This also didn't help the local economy.
The government is having a hard time compensating businesses in an emergency state
Business Is Hurt By Closed Borders
More than 80% of Belarusians are entering these local Polish villages for the purpose of grocery and shopping, so one can imagine the grave situation of the local border business. Over a third of the clients of local businesses are foreigners, and local governments on both sides of the border said that border trade and tourism were the most important factors of their economy.
It is estimated that Polish businesses earned more than 2 billion zlotys (Polish currency) from border trade with Belarus, according to Arkadiusz Malkowski. Belarusian citizens accounted for the majority of expenditures in the border area. Within a 50 kilometer radius of the border.
This border crisis has yet to be determined how long it will last, but its impact on the local Polish economy has been fairly significant. Residents expressed hope that the situation would improve sooner rather than later and believed tourists from Belarus would be able to visit their cities.
Written By: Olivium's Editor