Temelín nuclear power plant – one of the country’s more unusual tourist attractions

The southern Bohemian nuclear power plant Temelín has long been a thorn in the side of anti-nuclear activists. Its operator, the power utility ČEZ, insists that the Soviet-designed plant is perfectly safe and is now working to improve its image. It has launched an advertising campaign to attract visitors to its information centre, which seems to be bearing fruit, as Jana Gribbinová from the power plant explains:

Temelín nuclear power plantTemelín nuclear power plant “Last year was very successful for us, we had nearly 27,000 visitors, which is the highest number we have had since we opened the visitor centre, and compared with the figures for 2006, it’s up 10%.”

And what sort of visitors did you get last year, were there lots of school groups for example, and were there lots of foreigners?

“More than half of the visitors are students of primary or secondary schools, or of universities. These are mostly organized groups, and we have special programmes for them, based on the age of the students. Most of the visitors are Czech, but about 7% of our visitors are foreign. Most of them are from Austria and Germany, but we also have some visitors from more exotic countries like Guinea, India, Yemen and Japan.”

Maybe at first glance, a factory isn’t the most exciting place to visit, so how is it that you have visitors coming from these exotic, far-flung places?

Temelín nuclear power plantTemelín nuclear power plant “Three years ago we started a very intensive advertising campaign to promote our information centre. We cooperate with the Southern Bohemian Tourist Authority, and with 13 information centres in southern Bohemia. We produce and distribute information and invitations to the plant which can be found on the internet, and in these southern Bohemian towns.”

But do you also think that maybe a lot of the bad press that Temelin gets attracts people to come and see for themselves?

“Yes, of course. Interest in the Temelín nuclear plant information centre is connected with the worldwide intensive discussion about nuclear energy. The Czech Republic is no exception, and so people are coming to see what it’s like and how it works.”

Can I ask you now about the visitor experience which you offer? What can a visitor to Temelín expect to see?

“There are organized tours with a guide who explains what it is that you are looking at etc. There are different models, different photographs, and we have a cinema in which you can see a documentary about Temelín. There’s a virtual visit to the power plant, and there’s also a three-dimensional film. And apart from all the technical information, the visitor can also visit different art exhibitions.”

Are there some questions that people most frequently ask, what is it about Temelin that people are generally most interested in?

“The most frequent question is whether Temelín is safe or not. We can prove that there is absolutely no problem, and that Temelín is one of the safest nuclear power plants in the whole world.”