"Farewell" vacation

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This summer, for the first time in my life, I bought myself a holiday package from a Czech travel agency and although it was one of my best holiday experiences, I will most probably never choose to go on vacation through a travel agency in this country ever again. Every summer, we hear in the news that Czechs where left stranded at their holiday destinations, or never even made it to these places because smaller travel agencies had gone bankrupt and were forced to close down. To be honest, I never had any sympathy for the affected travellers because they shouldn't have chosen to trust the small agencies in the first place. But when news broke that former senator and businessman Vaclav Fischer, the owner of the country's biggest travel agency, was in financial trouble and was looking for investors to save his businesses, I got worried. A Czech can't even go on holiday these days without having to fear that something will go wrong!

Experts have already begun to speculate how this will affect the travel industry in the future. The bigger travel agencies are enjoying a lucrative summer - it's hot, people want to go to the beach and with the biggest competitor out of the way, most customers now come to them. The smaller agencies are trying to keep their heads above water as people think the chances of them being trustworthy are small. And the ordinary Czech, who just two months ago finally had the chance to travel thanks to very affordable last minute offers, now has to be prepared, once again, to dig deeper into his wallet or stay closer to home.

In fact, what experts feared would happen is beginning to turn real. The country's travel agencies have already announced that they will have to raise their prices. With the Fischer crisis, insurance companies abroad are now on alert and view the Czech Republic as a risky country. This, as well as the planned reform on the insurance market, will force travel agencies to spend more money on insurance in general. Their increased expenses will automatically be made up for by higher prices of holiday packages.

So it appears that instead of the beaches of Croatia, Italy, Greece or Spain, our country's lakes and ponds will have to do. But that is easier said than done. Just this week, ecologists warned that a third of our lakes and ponds are no longer suitable for swimming. The tropical weather, combined with the lack of rain, serve as superb conditions for poisonous plankton to grow. Many water bodies are full of them and anyone who still decides to take a swim to cool off can end up spending his holiday in bed.