Association: vacation tour sales increased in 2010


On Monday the Association for Czech Tour Operators and Travel Agencies posted figures for 2010 on the number of tours sold to Czech tourists, from vacations in nearby countries to more exotic locations. After many pinched pennies (or rather crowns) in 2009, Radio Prague wanted to know whether there were significant changes this year.

A little earlier I spoke to one of the association’s vice-presidents, Tomio Okamura.

“This year we saw a roughly seven-percent increase in the sale of tours to Czech citizens: that amounts to a total of 2.25 million tours this year. That result is pretty good.”

How do you explain the turn-around?

“The economic crisis is almost over but on the other hand Czechs are still saving. That means that the most popular tours are to nearby destinations: Croatia, Slovakia, Italy. These are destinations where it is possible to go by car or coach. Almost half of Czechs spent their foreign vacations there this year. Regarding more expensive tours by plane, there we still have a drop of around 15 percent, similar to last year. So Czechs are still careful with their wallets, continuing to prefer closer and cheaper destinations than if they flew.”

I’m curious for those who do have more spending power, what were exotic destinations that were popular for them?

“Those unaffected or less affected by the crisis, say in higher society who continued to travel to exotic countries, picked Thailand the most. Thailand saw a 26 percent increase in Czech tourists who can afford it, largely based on safety and good service. Destinations like this haven’t had problems.”

We’ve been talking about Czech travellers going abroad, either closer areas or further abroad: what about those travelling now to the Czech Republic? New Year’s Eve is just a few days away what do we know about those who will visit?

“We know that around 190,000 foreign tourists will visit the Czech Republic on New year’s Eve; 80 percent of those will visit only Prague. This date is the busiest in Prague in the whole year from the point of view of the tourist industry. According to our research there will be about a five percent increase in the number of tourists this year. But the overall revenues are expected to drop somewhat because of differences: in the past the highest number of visitors was from Germany, the UK and Italy. This year we expect the second and third spots to be taken by tourists from Russia and Poland, who we believe will spend less.”

Photo: CzechTourism
The French travel website Trivago has reported in a survey Prague hotels are increasing prices for New Year’s Eve by threefold – some 179 percent. Normally the price is around 77 euros – now it will be 215. What is your view on that strategy?

“I do not think that it will be successful. Higher category hotels are hiking rates but the fact is there is plenty of accommodation in Prague: there are already too many accommodation facilities in the Czech Republic so I would say it is clear not all accommodation facilities will be booked up on December 31st. At the moment I think it is a psychological game between tourists waiting till the last minute to book, hoping the prices will drop and more expensive hotels so far offering only higher rates hoping someone will still buy.”