Older UK tourists are target market, says head of CzechTourism's London office

CzechTourism is - as the name suggests - the Czech Republic's tourist board. As well as its headquarters here in Prague, it has many offices around the world, everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires. Last week I paid a visit to the London branch of CzechTourism, where I met its director, Jan Mlcak. I began by asking him about the office's activities.

"Our main task is to promote the Czech Republic as an ideal tourist destination, to the general public and the British media and operators. And of course, like many tourist boards, we organise press trips for the British media to the Czech Republic, to promote not only Prague but the Czech Regions - our last collective press trip was to the city of Brno and to the winery region."

That's a question I wanted to ask you - how difficult is it for you to let the British public know that there is more to the Czech Republic than Prague?

"It's definitely very, very difficult and it's definitely a challenge to promote other parts of the country."

Is there any particular section of the British public you're aiming at? Is there a particular type of British tourist you would like to bring to the Czech Republic?

"One of our tasks is to change the structure of British people coming to the Czech Republic. As everybody knows, Prague became a very popular beer and stag party destination a couple of years ago. So of course we try to persuade 55-plus people to return to our country."

What is it about that age group that is attractive as a tourist segment, so to speak?

"These people are definitely very rich. These people still prefer to go on European coach tours, or combined air and coach tours. And they are able to spend more than ten days on their holiday. During their tours they usually combine two or three destinations. In this case we have four to six days for the Czech Republic - and more time to spend not only in Prague but also in the Czech regions."

Some tourists did go to the Czech Republic, or Czechoslovakia as it was then, under communism, but the floodgates opened after 1989 and since then a lot of British people have already been to the Czech Republic. Does that make your job harder or easier, the fact that many British people have already been?

"It's a bit difficult to say but the Czech Republic...now I must say Prague, Prague is one of the cities where people love to return, like to Paris or to Venice...I wouldn't say that it's harder or easier."