As tourism fell this year, more Czechs visited Prague

From January to September, the number of tourists to Prague fell by almost seventy percent compared to the same period last year. However, the share of Czech tourists doubled in the first three quarters of 2020.

Thanks to Prague unlocked campaign, nearly 70,000 people visited the metropolis this summer, mainly from the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and Slovakia.

More than 400 accommodation establishments have participated in the program. Visitors can use free tickets to nearly 80 tourist attractions, such as museums, galleries and monuments.

“Most of the visitors were families with children, sleeping an average of two or three nights in four-star hotels. The most popular destinations were Prague Zoo, Prague Castle, Petrin Tower, ”said Hana Třeštíková, Prague Councilor for Culture and Tourism.

“The program has been evaluated very positively not only by us, but also by the Association of Hotels and Restaurants or the Confederation of Trade and Tourism,” said Klára Malá, spokesperson for Prague City Tourism.

“During this summer, Prague recorded a 16% increase in the number of domestic visitors compared to 2019,” she added.

According to the Czech Statistical Office (CSO), less than 750,000 tourists visited Prague during the third quarter of the year, that is, from July to September.

Several hotels could close

The municipality extended the campaign until the end of the year. However, due to current government measures against the spread of the coronavirus, the vouchers cannot yet be used. So the question of whether hotels and museums will open by the end of the year plagues many business owners.

“It is possible that in December part of the measure will be relaxed and we may attract more people to Prague,” Třeštíková added.

“The current situation is deplorable. At least 450 accommodation establishments in Prague are closed, ”explains Viliam Sivek, president of the Czech Tourism Union, who also owns Sivek Hotels. “Of the five hotels, three are closed. We have one or two occupied rooms, ”says Sivek.

According to Radka Telyčková of the Helping Hoteliers project, many hotels will not be able to cope with the decline in tourism and will not reopen.

Stop mass tourism

For the mayor of Prague Zdenek Hrib, the key lies in the regulation of accommodation for tourists. “We need to tackle the Airbnb problem first, otherwise we have no control over the number of tourists coming to Prague,” he says.

Hrib submitted a bill to the Czech parliament that would allow him to restrict rentals through platforms like Airbnb. Entire apartments cannot be rented at all, but only rooms in apartments where the owner himself lives.

Apparently, barely 80% of the more than 13,000 apartments offered by Airbnb in Prague are no longer allowed to be offered through the internet portal. The measure could potentially make renting apartments in Prague to locals more lucrative than short-term rentals to foreign tourists.

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