Tens of thousands of tourists descend on Prague for the New Year

30-12-2004

Generally, winter is not considered prime tourist season in Prague, but Christmas and New Year's Eve are an exception. Towards the end of each year, the Czech capital is bustling with foreign tourists. What attracts them to come at this time of a year? Where do they all come from? Martin Mikule has set off to Prague streets to find out.

Where do you come from?

Man: "Bristol, England."

Have you come for the New Years Eve?

"Yes."

How do you like it here?

"We've been here only for a few hours, but so far it seems OK."

Man: "It is a very beautiful city. It's a different sort of life. Very more laid back than what it is in Britain."

Man: "I come from Italy. We have spent three days in Praga. I like 'pivo', your beautiful girls [laughs], and your beautiful city. It's my second time in here."

Woman: "I come from Canada."

What do you like about Prague?

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK "I like the boys." [laughs]

Is there something else that attracts you so much here?

"Well, I'm working in Italy. My friends were coming here, so I thought it would be nice to come along and see a new city."

Man: "I am also from Italy; it's my second time in Prague. I am interested in Czech traditions, so we are now looking for something typical Czech."

So a few of the tens of thousands of foreign tourists there who will spend New Year's Eve in Prague.

Most hotels in traditional tourist areas in the Czech Republic are booked way in advance. This year, the Czech Republic expects more then 200,000 visitors from abroad; half of them will visit Prague.

Czech Tourist Authority head Rostislav Vondruska.

"I think Prague attracts every year more and more tourists. The growth could be estimated by five percent, I would say. The most visitors come from neighbouring countries, especially from Germany. Then, we of course see a lot of British tourists, people from Ireland, and also from Italy."

Most of tourists will not stay in Prague for both Christmas and the New Year's Eve. Actually, there are different sorts of people coming for these two holidays.

"I think during Christmas season we see mostly the families coming, but also couples with no kids. They want to spend their Christmas in historical cities like Prague or other cities in the Czech Republic. On the other hand, during New Year's Eve we see a lot of singles and no married couples which come to enjoy the New Year's atmosphere of Prague."

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Prague is a very historical and vibrant city and is hard to explore within a single visit of a few days. Lots of foreign visitors therefore tend to come back.

"We can be very satisfied with it. There are only few tourists who do not return to Prague. But almost 100 percent come back to Prague. They come even for the third time. They are also looking for opportunities to see a little bit of the countryside."

If you happen to be visiting Prague for New Year's Eve, you will definitely find a lot of ways to entertain yourself. But don't be surprised if you meet only a few of the locals; most Praguers actually prefer to leave the city for the countryside to ring in the New Year. Snow covered mountains have become an especially popular retreat.

30-12-2004