Tourism is one of the biggest industries in Prague, with millions of people visiting the Czech capital every year. One important element of the business is “convention tourism”, when visitors come to attend conferences, seminars and trade fairs. The Prague Convention Bureau promotes congress tourism in the city – I discussed its activities with marketing manager Andrea Libová.
The Association of Czech Travel Agents says it expects visitors to the Czech Republic during the Christmas and New Year period to spend a round a fifth less than in the same period 12 months previously. The association’s Tomio Okamura says around 420,000 tourists are expected to visit the country, around the same number as last year. He said he expected a fall in spending because more eastern Europeans and fewer western tourists are coming to the Czech Republic than previously. The strength of the Czech crown is another factor.
In Business News this week: the EU has agreed on new agricultural policy, which Czechs do not support; Russian oil firm Lukoil wants to buy a stake in several Czech refineries; a packaging firm scoops the title of Business of the Year; over a half of Czechs find it difficult to get by on their current income, and Czech hoteliers are registering a decline in the number of guests.
The number of tourist from EU countries visiting the Czech Republic has been falling, this year reaching the lowest level since 2000, data from government agency Czech Tourism and the Czech Statistical Office have shown. Tourists from Western Europe are being replaced by visitors from Central and Eastern Europe, mainly from Poland, Russia and the Baltic States. In the first six month of this year, tourists from western countries made up 56 percent of all tourists, compared to over 66 percent in the year 2000. Experts attribute the decrease to an economic slowdown in Western Europe and say a further drop is not expected.
The structure of foreign tourists visiting Prague has changed over the past four years. While in 2004, the Czech capital was mostly visited by British tourists, it is now becoming increasingly popular among Russians. The number of Russian tourists has gradually been increasing, and last year their number reached 200,000. The overall number of tourists coming to Prague has risen by more than 600,000 since 2004. This year’s tourist season, however, saw a significant drop in the number of visitors.
Prague castle is the most visited tourist destination in the Czech Republic, followed by Prague Zoo and the National Museum. The list has been put together by the state agency CzechTourism. Most of the places in the top ten have reported increased number of visitors in the past year, despite a sharp fall in the overall number of tourists. Six of the ten most popular tourist destinations are in Prague. The list also includes the National Gallery, the Jewish Museum and the zoological garden in Dvůr Králové.
Ever feel like a relaxing massage? Well, you’re not the only one; the number of people visiting Czech spas has risen in the first six months of this year by 5.5 percent. And according to the Czech Association of Travel Agents, more visitors than ever are going for a weekend of pampering, instead of a longer, curative stay. To find out more, I spoke to Klára Nydlová, a manager at the Richmond Hotel in one of the country’s largest spa towns, Karlovy Vary. I started by asking whether guest numbers at her hotel reflected the new statistics:
Czech hotels and other accommodation facilities registered 3.4 million guests in the second quarter of this year, down 0.1 percent year-on-year, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Friday. Tourists stayed in the Czech Republic for 2.9 nights on average, compared to three nights seen a year earlier. The figure applies to both foreign and domestic guests.
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