Czechs may be allowed to travel to Croatia and Slovakia this summer

Split (Foto: Martinasl, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Travel to and from the Czech Republic to other countries has been tightly restricted for over a month. However, officials say that recreational travel to selected foreign destinations could be allowed during the summer. Meanwhile, domestic historical sites are expecting a large number of visitors.

Split, Croatia, photo: Martinasl, CC BY-SA 4.0
While some restrictions on business, family and medical related travel were lifted last week, free travel to and from the Czech Republic has been banned for over a month, since the government began enacting strict measures aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

In a radio interview on Sunday, President Miloš Zeman said he believed that the borders should remain closed for a period of one year and urged Czechs to use this as an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Czech countryside.

For his part, Deputy Health Minister Roman Prymula says he agrees in principle with the head of state’s position.

“Nevertheless, there could be exceptions to the rule. If there is interest in travel to a specific country and [the coronavirus risk] is the same there as it is here, by this I mean Croatia, then I do believe that travel would be possible under some conditions.

“However, this sort of thing would really be an exception and in the majority of cases I think it would be as the president said.”

Just last year, around 750,000 Czechs travelled to Croatia, their favourite holiday destination according to a recent survey by the Public Opinion Research Centre.

Roman Prymula, photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek
The travel ban could also be lifted to the second most popular destination for Czechs: Slovakia. According to Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček, the country’s eastern neighbour could become the first state to which Czechs are allowed to holiday in sometime before summer.

Meanwhile, Czech vacation destinations, normally frequented by tens of thousands of foreign tourists, have been forced to make cutbacks and improvise.

The National Heritage Institute, which administers over 100 castles and palaces, announced austerity measures last month after the government enacted a state-wide quarantine.

The institute’s spokeswoman Jana Hartmanová said last week that cultural sites will open to the public on June 8, more than a month later than normal. However, she did highlight that many sites are offering tours online, which will also soon feature English subtitles.

“Online tours of cultural sites, videos of what we are preparing, or what is happening at these sites right now, can be found on our social media. I would recommend checking out the video of Valeč Castle, which provides a taster of the new permanent exhibition on Baroque sculptor Matthias Braun.”

Financial losses from the postponement have been estimated at CZK 150 million by the institute, which has also been reimbursing those who bought online tickets in advance.

It is uncertain whether the likely increase in domestic visitors to Czech heritage sites will compensate for the losses caused by travel restrictions. The institute spokeswoman says these details will only become clear in autumn.