Representatives of the Czech Bishop’s conference and the Czech Republic’s Tourism Forum have signed a memorandum setting the framework for their future cooperation. The two sides hope that more Czech and foreign visitors can take advantage of the country’s rich religious heritage.
The document was signed by the head of the Czech Republic’s Tourism Forum, Viliam Sivek and Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka in Prague on Thursday and promotes the joint development and support of church and monastery tourism.
On the occasion of the signing, Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka stressed the importance of opening church monuments to the public. He also highlighted the economic benefits of tourism, saying that turnover of the Czech tourist industry is as high as that of the domestic car industry, and added that it can create new work opportunities.
Stanislav Přibyl is the secretary of the Czech Bishops’ Conference:
“The memorandum promotes closer cooperation between the Czech Bishops’ Conference and the Czech Republic’s Tourism Forum. It is a framework document, which will become the basis for various projects. We also want to coordinate our activities, cooperate over legislative questions and share our experiences in tourism.”
According to Mr Přibyl, the Czech Republic’s religious heritage has always been an inseparable part of the country’s tourist industry, but with churches increasingly taking charge of those objects following restitution, churches have started to develop this as an independent and distinctive field of business.
“The trend of church tourism has been here from the start of the new millennium. There are travel agencies in this country which specialise on taking tourists to visit church monuments abroad.
“But today I would say there are actually more travel agencies that bring Czechs and foreigners to church monuments in this country. So I think there is a great potential.”
The Brno Bishopric has recently launched a new website called cirkevnituristika.cz, which is mapping various religious facilities around the country. It includes religious monuments but also promotes church facilities used for accommodation and other alternative purposes.
The project is based on the festival Night of Churches and its main aim is to make religious facilities accessible to the public as much as possible.
The secretary of the Czech Bishops’ Conference Stanislav Přibyl outlines some other interesting sites that have recently opened to the public:
“Among the recently opened church objects are abandoned vicarages in South Moravia, which have been turned into accommodation facilities, such as St Anne’s guest house in Pasohlávky.
“There are also newly opened cathedral towers, crypts and gardens. And I would also like to mention diocese museums, such as in Brno, Olomouc, Litoměřice and Pilsen. So these are just some of the recently opened objects.”
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