Folia Turistica 01/2011; 25(2011):249-264.

ABSTRACT Tourist attractions are the main feature of a tourism product. The Salt Mine in Wieliczka is the most visited and best commercialized tourist attraction in Poland, unique on a world scale, a mining site inscribed on the UNESCO list. In the following work, the authors have attempted to use R.W. Butler's model of tourism area evolution to interpret the mine's phases of development. From 1945 to 2007 two cycles of development are isolated, the collapse of tourist attendance in the mines being caused by external factors (the collapse of the tourism market in the 1980s and the flooding of the walkways in 1993). At present, the mine receives over one million tourists a year, placing it at the forefront of the most popular tourist attrac-tions, while the changes to the tourism product and the structure of the visitors indicate that it is achieving the 'rebirth' phase outlined by Butler's model.

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