For more than a year now, young Czech journalist Janek Rubeš has been waging a war against Prague’s notorious taxi services that have a reputation for overcharging tourists. In his widely popular series broadcast on the internet television Stream.cz, he is also uncovering other tourist scams in the Czech capital. When I spoke to Janek Rubeš, I asked him what sparked his interest in this topic in the first place:
Albanian police have arrested a man suspected to shooting dead two Czech tourists in the northern part of the country on Friday. The tourists were shot on a mountain road near the town of Skadar on their way to a tent camp. The gunman then pushed the car with the dead bodies down a ravine to make it appear an accident. The twenty-six-year old man suspected of the murders was released from prison just a month ago after serving a five year sentence for armed robbery in which a small child was killed.
Hundreds of Albanians have gone on social networks to apologize for the brutal murder of two Czech tourists on Friday. Shortly after news of the murder broke people from Skadar gathered in the streets to lay flowers and light candles in memory of the victims. Some of them carried Czech flags. Among those who posted words of apology and regret was the popular Albanian music group Revolt Klan. “We just wanted to tell the Czech people that all Albanians are not murders, that what happened is shameful and we greatly regret it,” Bruno Pollogati of Revolt Klan told Czech Radio.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has issued a warning urging Czech citizens traveling or vacationing in Tunisia to avoid areas outside of their hotels such as public markets, bars, restaurants and other sites where large numbers of people congregate. The ministry is also offering travelers the opportunity to register at its website. The warning comes after Friday's terrorist attack in Sousse where a lone gunman opened fire on vacationers with an assault rifle. Thirty-eight people, mostly tourists but also locals, died in the massacre. The Czech Foreign Ministry said that travelers needed to avoid border areas near Libya or Algeria, where the risk of kidnapping is high. According to the ministry, areas west of the line of Jendouba, Le Kef, Kasserine, Sidi Bouzid, Tozeur, and south of Tozeur, Kebili, Medenine and Zarzine are high-risk. There are fears not only of possible abductions but of additional attacks against Western targets.
Some 40 Czech nationals who were vacationing in Sousse, Tunisia, just 150
metres from where a gunman opened fire on vacationers with a kalashnikov on
Friday, have made clear they want to return home to the Czech Republic as
soon as possible. One of the Czechs told the Czech News Agency that most
did not want to be in the country a single day after a cold-blooded killer
gunned down dozens of westerners and locals at the seaside. Thirty-eight
people were killed; there were no Czech victims. Czech diplomacy has
recommended a government plane be sent to facilitate the Czechs'
return but that is being reported as unlikely. The Foreign Ministry is
instead cooperating with travel agencies to try and secure places on
earlier return flights which are now largely booked up.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek told Czech TV he understood why Czech tourists in the vicinity of the tragedy could hardly continue with their vacations, saying diplomatic staff had been boosted in Tunisia to provide assistance. The Association of Czech Travel Agents said on Saturday that some 30 Czechs wanted to return out of 3,000 or so vacationing in Tunisia. Czech travel agencies have been offering clients at home the chance to still change pre-paid destinations. In some cases, they have offered refunds.
Prague Castle remains to be the most visited site in the Czech Republic, according to figures put together by Czech Tourism agency. Prague castle attracted some 1.8 million tourists last year, while Prague Zoo, which was placed second, was visited by nearly 1.4 million people. Among the other top 10 most visited landmarks is Prague's Old Jewish quarter and the Petřín tower, as well as the newly opened museum of brewery in Pilsen.
The Czech travel agency Marine Tour, specialising in holiday destinations in Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece, has declared bankruptcy, leaving around 900 of its clients stranded abroad. Generali, which insured the agency against bankruptcy, will now pay for the return of the agency’s clients back to the Czech Republic. Another 4,000 people, who were supposed to leave for their holidays as of Friday, will have to cancel their holidays in light of the development.
CzechTourism has launched a new mobile application enabling users to visit spots in the Czech Republic used as locations in domestic and international film productions. The state agency said on Wednesday that the Czech Film Trips database contained information on around 300 movie locations around the country and would be constantly updated. The app is free and is linked to the website http://www.zemefilmu.cz/en.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, says the influx of refugees into Southern Europe does not pose a threat to Czech tourists in the region. He said his officials did not believe asylum seekers in Italy, Greece and in particular the Greek island of Kos represented a heightened security risk. However, speaking at the launch of this year’s tourist season, Mr. Zaorálek warned Czechs against visiting countries where Islamic State radicals were active. As every summer, the Czech Republic is opening temporary consuls at destinations popular with Czech holidaymakers, such as Rijeka and Split in Croatia.
Prague will remain the ninth most visited city in Europe and the 19th on a world scale, according to a survey released by the credit card company MasterCard. The list of most visited world cities was topped by London, followed by Bangkok, and Paris. Prague is expected to host nearly 5.5 million visitors this year, compared to 5.2 million in 2014. The study estimates the foreign visitors will spend altogether some 82 billion crowns in Prague in 2015.