Greetings from Czechia

28. 6. 2016 | Source: BusinessInfo.cz

Beach terrorist attacks, improved domestic services and a trend for taking shorter-but-more holidays are driving record in-country tourism.

Entrepreneurs in the domestic travel and tourism industry are experiencing a once unimaginable boom. Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia are being swamped by holidaying Czechs, according to the first 2016 data issued by the Czech Statistical Office and the observations of businesspeople in the field. Growth in demand has soared by tens of percent. "This is now the second year in which interest has climbed steeply, this year perhaps by 30 percent," Petr Krč, owner of the Atis travel agent, told E15.

In his eyes, the security risks faced by seaside holiday locations abroad are very much behind the domestic take-off in home country tourism. "We are ordinarily selling luxury hotel offers which because of their high prices were previously unsellable," added Krč. The main clients are families with children and seniors.

The growing appeal is shown by capacity statistics. The year before last, untaken last-minute capacity was toward 40 percent, but this year it has fallen to just 10 percent. Vacation spots with the greatest draw are Krkonoše [The Giant Mountains], the West Bohemian Spa Triangle, Moravian spa town Luhačovice and the Beskydy Mountains.

"The domestic tourism branch is functioning very well," agreed Radek Drechsler, CEO of the Čedok tour operator. His company is this year seeing growth of around 40 percent in sold Czech Republic holidays. The statisticians calculate that 1.35 million Czech guests stayed in the country's hotels in the January-March 2016 period, a year on year improvement of 11 percent. Thequarterly result for all accommodation facilities combined, meanwhile, shows a gain of 22 percent.

In assessing the reasons behind the surge in demand, CzechTourism spokesperson Martina Fišerová not only pointed to anxiety over terrorism but to what she perceived as a tangible and marked improvement in services encountered by holidaymakers in the regions during recent years. "Also of help are the discount internet portals, thanks to which it is possible to even fill offered places outside of the main season. And the clients for these are by now not perceived as second-category guests," she said.

Fišerová also talked of the trend for splitting one's annual leave allowance into a series of short vacations, with one devoted to roaming the Czech meadows or some such leisure. Another factor in the turnaround is the central bank's monetary policy. It has weakened the crown, thus making foreign holidays more expensive. CzechTourism foresees the number of accommodated Czech guests breaking through the nine-million barrier this year, substantially outstripping last year's 8.5 million.

Originally published in E15 weekly, economic and business newsmagazine. Author: Jan Šindelář

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