Coronavirus travel restrictions are proving tough to bear for the hundreds of thousands who work in the hospitality industry, but are also giving to many cities in Europe, including Prague, time and space to think about how to deal with their overtourism problems.
“The residents have been complaining for a very long time that the city doesn’t belong to them anymore,” said Barbora Hrubá of Prague City Tourism.
“This is a great opportunity for us to rebuild and restart tourism in the city differently. We want a different type of visitor who visits more than the most famous monuments in the centre,” said Hrubá.
10,8 million foreign tourists stayed in the Czech Republic in 2019. Most of them came from neighbouring countries, with Germans leading the pack (more than 2 million), followed by Slovaks (750,000) and Poles (673,000).
Prague City Tourism will run a special campaign from June till September and its goal is to bring as many Czechs to Prague as we can. There will be discounts and free admissions to Prague monuments, museums, and galleries.
“We will try to attract them to the newly trendy neighbourhoods such Holešovice or Karlín,” added Hrubá.
Tourists are not usually interested in seeing the rest of the country, or even much of the city. The average length of stay is just 2.4 days, and the majority of tourists crowd into Old Town, which over the years has pushed out much local life from the area.
“There are parks in Prague where all of the infrastructures were designed with tourists in mind, rather than locals, and we need to change that,” said Hrubá.
The hope is that by taking some time to rethink tourism strategies with the locals at the forefront, the city will also become more satisfying destinations for tourists. “When the locals are happy, the visitors will be as well,” said Hrubá.