A year ago, the points of the Kraków tourist information network were equipped with electronic translators. This is the result of a the collaboration between Kraków5020- the company that manages the network and Vasco from Kraków. In June of this year, the same interpreters were equipped with City Helpers, i.e. the city helpers who could be found on Kraków’s streets during the summer holidays. They help tourists as part of a programme implemented for the third time by the UMK Department of Tourism in cooperation with the Kraków Cultural Forum.



According to the Małopolska Tourist Board, Kraków and Małopolska are experiencing a spectacular rebound in tourist traffic, especially from abroad. Compared to July last year, the number of international visitors in 2023 increased by 150 per cent and in August by 144 per cent. Kraków is most often visited by tourists from Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Slovakia, Israel and Italy. Traffic from Arab countries is also growing. These figures are confirmed by representatives of the front line of tourist services in Kraków, i.e. InfoKraków staff and City Helpers.

The mobile helpers are usually teams of two or three people who, from mid-June to the end of August, were involved in, among others, providing tourist information in the Old Town area and Kazimierz. They most often answered questions about current cultural events, the offer of Kraków’s museums, galleries and attractions in the surrounding area – the Wieliczka salt mine, the monastery in Tyniec and the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Oświęcim. They also helped to get around the city.

– English, which every City Helpers must know, is the most commonly used language when dealing with foreign tourists. Apart from that, the visitors who used our assistance most often used Ukrainian, Spanish, Italian and Hebrew, says Aleksandra Piątek, project coordinator, The City Helpers emphasise that they found the electronic translator very useful, especially when the foreign tourist did not communicate in English.

The City Helpers’ experience shows that foreigners were more likely than Poles to ask for help in buying tickets or using Kraków transport network.

Tourists who come to stationary information points usually know what they want to ask and, if they do not speak English, they sometimes use their own devices or translation apps, information point staff mentioned. This season, they most often provided services to Spaniards, Italians and French, but indicated a strong interest in Kraków among people from the Far East, primarily Asian countries such as Japan, China, Thailand, Korea and Vietnam.

– We needed a tool with which we could improve the quality of the services we provide. In order to be able to help every foreign guest, says Olga Potempa from Kraków5020, the Vasco translator has fulfilled its role in situations where the tourists did not communicate in English and in the languages spoken by our staff, or the situation was so complicated that it went beyond knowledge of the language.

InfoKraków employees at Balice Airport recall a situation when, thanks to Vasco, they were able to help an elderly man from Georgia and a deaf woman from Finland.

Lack of language skills does not have to be a barrier to travel. 16% of respondents of a survey carried out on behalf of Vasco Electronics by ARC Market and Opinion in May this year believe that it is not necessary to know a foreign language when travelling abroad, either because electronic translators can be used (64%) or optimistically assuming that “there will always be someone to help with communication” (51%).  In the same survey, a third of Poles declare that they have never been abroad and, although 78% indicate that knowledge of the language is essential for holiday trips, respondents believe that it is possible to manage without language by using electronic translators (64%).

Special holidays remind us of the need for mutual understanding. The end of September marks the European Day of Languages, the World Tourism Day and the International Translation Day, which fall on 26, 27 and 30 September this year. Their common denominator is … languages. The most popular language in the world, according to statista.com research, is English, with 1.5 billion people using it. Chinese, spoken by 1.1 billion people, is second, with Hindi and Spanish ranking third and fourth respectively in this list.