How Russians re-discover the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has become on of the most popular travel destination for Russians. Russian tourists are flocking to their former East-bloc ally, and Czech beer is all the rage in Moscow. Helen Belmont has more on this new Russian invasion.

Russian travel agencies advertise the Czech Republic's beauty, relatively low prices, and the added bonus of a language that is similar to Russian. Russians are buying the advertising pitch by droves, and many are taking their annual vacations to the famed Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary. Vacationing in the Czech lands, however, is nothing new. Russians have been visiting the country, and its famed spas, since the beginning of the last century. I spoke with Russian native who has been living in the Czech Republic, Alla Vetrovcova, about why she thought that her compatriots found the Czech Republic so appealing.

"It's kind of a tradition here. People are coming because it's close. It's not so far from Russia. It's also a Slavic language which they can understand. It's also very popular because of the tradition of Czech beer. Regarding the historical stuff there are a lot of castles. If you take into consideration that during the second world war, a lot of these historical monuments were destroyed in Russia and the former Soviet Union. This is also attractive, a part of culture we couldn't see in our own country. So this also an attraction to see with our own eyes an eleventh century castle."

Czech culture is spreading past its borders and into Russia. Czech beer and traditional Czech cuisine is well-known to most Muscovites, thanks to heavier advertising by Czech companies. Alla Vetrovcova comments.

"And now I guess it is a new time for Czech companies to try and sell their products to Russia. They were simply replaced with the western companies, which just immediately took these gaps in the Russian markets. It's kind of a problem for the Czech producers, they admitted it, and now they try very hard to announce themselves in the Russian market."

More and more Russians are also choosing to stay behind in the Czech Republic once their holidays end. Better economic opportunities are motivating many to leave their native country and emigrate to the Czech Republic, now, more than 30 years after a Soviet military invasion crushed democratic reforms in this Central European country.

Author: Helen Belmont
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