The Czech capital is bracing itself for thousands of young Danes who are expected to arrive during the upcoming school winter holidays in their country. The authorities in both countries have started preparing for their arrival in an effort to prevent the dozens of alcohol-fuelled incidents of violence and destruction Prague saw last year.
Last February, around 10,000 high schools students from Denmark arrived in Prague for their winter holidays. Inebriated with cheap alcohol, the young Danes damaged hotel rooms, fought in the streets among themselves and with the police, and caused chaos in parts of the city centre.
To prevent similar scenes this year, both the Czech and Danish authorities are preparing for the arrival of the students in Prague well in advance. Christian Hoppe is the Danish ambassador to the Czech Republic.
“In Denmark, we have been engaged for some time now in a public awareness campaign about what the law is in the Czech Republic, how young people should behave when they are abroad, what the responsibility of the parents is and that of the young people themselves.
The conference will address students, their parents as well as Danish travel agencies offering trips to the Czech capital. Mr Hoppe says that after last year’s problems, both teachers and parents in Denmark have become increasingly aware of what the combination of cheap alcohol and a lack of supervision can lead to.
“After what happened last winter in Prague, a lot of parents and teachers were very concerned and they are now taking various initiatives in order to prepare better for the behaviour of the young people when they come here.”
The Danish students’ invasion of Prague is a money spinner for the city’s hospitality industry. However, underage drinking can be an issue and the Czech police are planning to boost officer numbers on the streets for the week in question. Special attention will be paid to bars in the downtown area, says the mayor of Prague 1, Oldřich Lomecký.
“I have met with the head of the Prague police to coordinate their activities with those of the Prague municipal police. We want to monitor the movements of large groups of young people, and we will also make sure alcohol is not sold to underage people.”
In recent years, Prague has also become a popular destination with students from other countries. One is Sweden, with as many as 5,000 students from there expected to arrive in the Czech capital in the coming weeks.