New official website aims to promote Czech Republic

Photo: Studio Side2

The Czech Republic has a brand new official website which features information on everything from castles and chateaux to how to find a job in this country. The site has over 1,500 pages of text and is currently available in English, German and Czech versions. Jana Adamcova is the head of the Foreign Ministry's department of foreign presentation; she explained the aims of at its official launch.

"The Czech Republic has been working on the presentation, on the promotion of the country since 2005 and we wanted to have an internet tool to create a better image of the Czech Republic and to offer as much information as possible about our country. So is aimed at anyone who is interested in the Czech Republic, both tourists and investors, people who want to work here - and journalists of course."

What about the design? I see you've used the speech bubbles which were created earlier this year.

"This is actually the first product, the first tool with the new visual style we have. So there's a new brand of the Czech Republic and the whole concept is applied on this website."

Tell us about languages - we've seen here today English, Czech and German...

"In the next year we will have three more languages, which will be French, Spanish and Russian."

Will the content be the same in all languages - will you just translate the same material?

"The static content is the same, but the news is, shall we say, more defined for all the language versions."

Radio Prague, which is also financed by the Foreign Ministry, also has a website. Is there any kind of danger that this new website could possibly clash with Radio Prague, or could there be some kind of conflict do you think?

"I don't think so because we don't want to compete. We don't compete with the other websites of Czech Tourism, or Czech Trade or CzechInvest, and we don't compete with your website. We just want to be a gate to other very important sites of the Czech Republic."

With a great deal of money invested in creating and maintaining the website (it is set to cost more than a million dollars over the next four years), it is not surprising that it looks very stylish. But at the same time one would expect that the vast majority of users will be far more concerned with content. Peter Hameister is marketing director for Advertures, the company who have created the site - I asked him if was using reports from news agencies or creating its own, original material.

"We are using for the information reliable sources like CTK [the Czech Press Agency] and we have our own editorial team, so it's going to be a mix of agency information and our own editorial team."

You say you're going to use CTK. I must say their English isn't always perfect -will you have some native speaker editing, or will it be done by Czechs?

"No, no, no - even for the German part there are Germans writing it, so it will be all spelt correctly."

Correctly spelled it might be, but since the launch of less than a week ago articles have appeared in the Czech press pointing out numerous factual mistakes. Officials blame the errors on the fact that in many cases they have received incorrect information from various ministries; they have requested new, correct versions and admit it could take a full six months to rectify the problem.