– The excavation of the Vistula Spit has already given a huge impetus to the development of the tourism industry this season. I think that the investment will pay off very quickly, taking into account the profits of the local community from the tourist business, or even the increase in plot prices – says Michał Sydor, head of the charter company on the Vistula Lagoon. Although it must be said straight: PiS’s plans were much bigger.
“An unprofitable road to nowhere, millions spent unjustifiably. The cutting through the Spit was doomed to failure from the very beginning and could not increase security in the region” – this is how
Supreme Chamber of Control
summarized the findings from the inspection of “the construction of a waterway connecting the Vistula Lagoon with the Bay of Gdańsk”.
This is one of PiS’s flagship investments. For some members of the ruling party, criticism of this idea was tantamount to supporting Russia. Moreover, to this day there are analyzes on government websites stating that “the Spit excavation is a target of Russian propaganda.”
However, sailors and motorboat enthusiasts from the area do not agree with the thesis about the road to nowhere
the Vistula Lagoon
. They are the first and only ones to make money on the investment. They believe that the trench attracted crowds of tourists to the region already in the first holiday season: not only beachgoers from neighboring resorts, but also sailors and owners of motor yachts. Although it was supposed to be different, tourism becomes “its first tangible justification”. This more important, economic justification does not exist yet – because the waterway to the port in Elbląg has not been completed.
This year I had clients from all over Poland: Bielsko-Biała, Kraków, Warsaw, Poznań. They swam out through the ditch into the Bay of Gdańsk and shouted with joy that it was amazing to see seals lounging at the mouth of the Vistula. So we have a highway to Gdańsk and all the way to Hel.
We were also sailed there – says WP Michał Sydor, owner of the Format 84 Charter company from Nowa Pasłęka on the Vistula Lagoon.
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The entrepreneur believes that the expenditure of PLN 2 billion for the investment in the trench should be looked at from the perspective of the profits of the local community. In his opinion, new tourists have arrived, they are leaving money in local businesses, and the prices of plots are increasing in the communes on the Vistula Lagoon.
Perhaps the calculations that the investment would be repaid by the fees for locking ships were a bit exaggerated. It is too early to judge this as there is no road to the port in Elbląg yet. However, we are already gaining
– the interlocutor judges.
– After this season, private plot owners are building new houses for rent. I heard that charter companies are buying new yachts.
Until now, our region was off the beaten path and undiscovered, but now it is changing quickly. The Vistula Lagoon may be as popular as Masuria
– adds Sydor.
He emphasizes that in the future
The mayor of Frombork wants to run for local government. He has a plan – he is not revealing it yet – how to promote the city thanks to the excavation of the Vistula Spit.
Water highway to Hel
The sailors and motorboaters we talked to praise that it takes 1.5 hours to sail from the port in Nowa Pasłęka (located on the border with Russia) to the Spit Canal (by a motor yacht).
And further possibilities open up for a cruise to Hel, Jastarnia or the new marina in Puck. In turn, the return is possible through Gdańsk, the Szkarpawa River to the waters of the Vistula Lagoon. The time of the yacht cruise from Elbląg to Nowy Świat is less than an hour. This is an alternative for those who have already visited Masuria.
– Such expeditions are popular. Staying on a yacht is cheaper than in a hotel.
I sailed to Jastarnia myself and one sunny Saturday I saw 20 yachts in the lock of the Nowy Świat port
– Anna, a resident of Sztutowo, a water recreation enthusiast, reports to Wirtualna Polska.
I know a lot of sailors and motorboat enthusiasts from Żuławy, but also from Iława and Ostróda. In fact, everyone includes swimming through the ditch in their next plans
– he adds.
From the opening of the investment on September 18, 2022, to June 22 this year, a total of 991 units passed through the shipping canal on the Vistula Spit (data from the Maritime Office). The second number crossed the ditch in the summer season.
Dig for ships only. This may change
According to the interlocutors, the barriers to the development of tourism are regulations regarding maritime traffic safety and the obligation to have appropriate patents. Captaincy
Nowy Świat port
requires sailors to communicate via VHF radio. In the port itself, at the Nowy Świat lock, you cannot moor for relaxation and sunbathing – and this is an obvious consequence of the fact that the purpose of the investment is cargo traffic.
However, due to the great interest in recreational cruises through the channel, experts from the Pomeranian Voivodeship Marshal’s Office are planning to update maps of water routes in the region. The crossing will be described as part of the water route of the Żuławy loop. The water route, which begins in Germany, is to end in Elbląg.
– Taking into account the voices of the sailing community,
we are analyzing the possibilities of building a marina at the Vistula Spit canal and expanding the ports in Kąty Rybackie and Piaski. The funds could come from the European funds for Pomerania program for 2021-2027
– says WP Rafał Wasil, who is the manager of the Strategic Project in the office
Bay of Gdańsk, Baltic Sea.
He also confirms that the trench was a summer tourist hit in Pomerania. And it is worth emphasizing it again: it was supposed to be an economic hit, but it is only a tourist hit.
NIK criticizes the excavation of the Vistula Spit
In the first estimates from 2016, the excavation was supposed to cost PLN 880 million, but ultimately (at the end of April 2022) this amount increased to nearly PLN 2 billion. The auditors also found that PLN 213 million was spent in violation of the regulations.
The authors of the Supreme Audit Office’s report list a whole series of doubts. For example, they also indicate that until the necessary infrastructure works in the port of Elbląg are completed, sea vessels will not be able to call there.
The Supreme Audit Office’s auditors stated that they did not examine the justification for the construction
waterway connecting the Vistula Lagoon with the Bay of Gdańsk
. However, the report states that already at the planning stage the investment ”
there was no chance of achieving the main goal, i.e. ensuring security and increasing prosperity in the region, within the planned time. Its value significantly exceeded the profitability limit
According to some experts, however, it is too early to predict what benefits the construction of the waterway to Elbląg will bring. And finally – was it profitable at all?
The investment was burdened by the fact that politicians dressed it in slogans that it was national and patriotic. There was talk of a flagship investment
, and we had to demonstrate that we were building for money and to create opportunities for the region. If the construction is completed, there will be goods to transport to and from Elbląg. I’m sure about that
– comments Daniel Kotur, an inland navigation captain (as we speak, he is transporting goods by barge to the port of Ghent in Belgium).
– I myself am proof of the truth of this thesis, because I sail to small, medium and large ports in Western Europe. I cover kilometers every day without having a single day of downtime. But in Poland, always against the grain, it won’t pay off – he adds.
Tomasz Molga, journalist of Wirtualna Polska
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