Czech government to increase subsidies to boost tourism

Photo: Paul Ingles, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Barrier-free tourist trails, construction of lookout towers and online campaigns – these are just some of the projects that will receive state subsidies for promoting tourism, which should increase significantly this year. The Ministry of Regional Development alone is to spend over one billion crowns to help the struggling sector.

Tourism remains one of the sectors hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the current figures suggest that the industry has slowly started to rebound, tourism will need a considerable financial boost in order to reach the pre-pandemic levels.

The Ministry of Regional Development is planning to allocate nearly 1.25 billion crowns a year on tourist subsidies. Almost half the amount will go to the state agency CzechTourism. The government agency plans to spend a total of 100 million crowns on campaigns and foreign marketing this year, says the agency’s director, Jan Herget:

Jan Herget | Photo: Czech Radio

“We will of course prioritize countries in our region, since people from these countries will be the first to return [to the Czech Republic. But that doesn’t mean we will leave out other countries, such as Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and the United States, which seem to have no perspective for us at the moment. We have to continue campaigning there so that we don’t lose our position against the competition.”

CzechTourism assesses the effectiveness of their campaigns in part through clicks on their website and engagement on social networks. However, according to Jan Herget, it is not possible to clearly determine how many foreigners visit this country thanks to these campaigns.

Millions more crowns will be spent at trade fairs, on billboards and promotional material, and on raising the profile of the Czech Republic through well-known personalities.

But the money from the Ministry of Regional Development’s budget will also be used for specific tourist projects, such as building of cross-country skiing trails and sports facilities, says ministry spokesman Vilém Frček.

Photo: Jiří Čondl,  Czech Radio

“In recent years, the Ministry of Regional Development spent around 700 million crowns a year on supporting tourism. Among the projects that we supported were lookout towers, natural swimming pools and leisure facilities. In addition to this, we have also invested into improving the quality of services in rural areas.”

One of the aims of the Ministry of Regional Development is for the Czech Republic to be at the top of the global Tourism Competitiveness Index within the next ten years. In 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the country reached 38th spot in the ranking.

Following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the late spring of this year, the domestic tourism sector has started to show signs of recovery.

New figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Monday suggest that the number of tourists staying overnight in hotels and other accommodation facilities was up year-on-year for the first time in five quarters. However, compared to 2019, it is still less than a third of the pre-pandemic levels.