Prague residents get tired of foreign tourists

Nearly 8 million people visited the Czech capital Prague last year, making it one of the most visited cities in Europe.

Many visitors walk around the Old Town and take photos in the Old Town Square. Prague has become rich thanks to the money spent by tourists.

But now, 30 years after the Velvet Revolution ended communist rule, not everyone is happy with all the changes.

Filmmaker Pavel Kacirek has an apartment in the heart of Prague. Kacirek says he likes the city, but thinks it’s not a nice place to live anymore.

“People have moved, so services, stores… restaurants have moved with them,” he said.

“The the monuments are here… But it really is a Disneyland decoration,” he added.

One of the biggest problems for Prague’s 1.3 million inhabitants is housing. The prices are high.

Some apartment buildings no longer serve as housing for residents of the city. Many apartments are now used as offices or accommodation for short-term visitors.

Airbnb listed nearly 12,000 apartments in Prague last year, reports Prague development institute IPR. The city center has lost nearly 50% of its inhabitants. In 2017, the number of registered voters stood at 21,556, up from 36,862 in 1990.

Tourists now fill the historic streets of Prague. Many stay up late at night, buying cheap beer from bars and restaurants.

“The number of tourists is certainly more than Prague can handle,” said the city’s mayor, Zdenek Hrib. He added that Prague was trying to attract more spendthrift visitors, including those who came for business meetings.

“We are trying to solve the Disneyland that is evolving here,” he told Reuters news agency.

Tourists look at the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic, November 7, 2019. (REUTERS/David W Cerny)

Benefits and problems

When communism ended in 1989, Prague was an untouched historic city of great beauty, but it had air pollution problems and few services. Many old buildings needed repairs.

Billions of dollars of tourism investment and spending have made Prague the richest region in Central and Eastern Europe. He has a gross domestic product per person of 187% of the European Union average, according to the European Statistical System in 2018.

But Prague has changed over the past 30 years. The main tourist areas are now filled with memory shops, exchange offices and pubs.

“It’s about how Prague positions itself. If we remain a cheap bar, there will be slopssaid architect Kristof Hanzlik. He lives at 17 of his familye century house, near the walls of the gardens of Prague Castle.

The city has made efforts to resolve the problem. It now has a ‘night mayor’ who has the power to take action against people making loud noises late at night.

The authorities also abolished several exchange offices that charged high rates. They plan to stop renting offices to souvenir shops and restore services for residents of the city. It prohibits the sale of cheap beer to young bicycle tourists.

But for now, many Czechs simply avoid central Prague and reminisce about its once uncrowded beauty.

I am Susan Shand.

A vintage car with tourists drives through the center of Prague, Czech Republic, November 7, 2019. (REUTERS/David W Cerny)

A vintage car with tourists drives through the center of Prague, Czech Republic, November 7, 2019. (REUTERS/David W Cerny)

The Reuters news agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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words in this story

to evolve – v. changing or developing slowly often to a better or more complex state

Data – nm facts or information usually used to estimate or plan something

memory – nm something that is kept to help remember a place you have visited

gross domestic productnm the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during a year

cheap – adj. something inexpensive

slops – nm feed for pigs and other animals

monument – nm a building or other structure erected in honor of a famous person or event

decoration nm the activity of making something more attractive

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