Prague to host International Conference on Tourism

After the September 11th attacks on the United States, the Czech Republic experienced a large drop in tourists visiting the country - significant enough to have the Czech Ministry of Regional Development and Czech Tourist Authority plan an event to promote the Czech Republic internationally and to lure back the foreign visitors. Dita Asiedu has more:

The Ministry of Regional Development's department of international co-operation in tourism is currently organising an international conference entitled "The Czech Republic, a safe tourist destination". Dr. Cestmir Sajda is the deputy-minister of regional development and told Radio Prague more about the conference:

"We invited, from abroad, people who are responsible for the development of tourism in their countries, which means deputy ministers, state secretaries and so on, and also the people who are very important for this business from the private sectors. The same representation will be from the Czech Republic. The Congress will be held at the Hotel Intercontinental in Prague from the 24th to the 27th of January, because in such a difficult time for developing tourism, we would like to show the people in the world and in Europe that there are good places in Central Europe, which are worth visiting and which are very safe and good for organising congresses and so on."

But some would disagree with the claim that the Czech Republic is attractive and safe. Many tourist attractions still charge foreigners higher admission fees than locals, most taxi drivers avoid Czech passengers and look for tourists in order to charge higher fares. It is claimed to be unadvisable for non-whites to visit certain remote areas of the country where far-right and Neo-Nazi groups have pockets of support.

But the conference's organisers are not out to discuss these issues. The issue of dual pricing will soon be resolved by Czech entry to the EU, and the risk of racial attack is a factor in many countries around the world. According to Mr Sajda, most tourists come from the neighbouring countries, a fact that the organisers hope to change with the help of the conference:

"Traditionally, we have the most important group coming from Germany, which is the number one country for incoming tourism. The other neighbouring countries are also very important and then we have many tourists from Russia, the United States, and Japan."

But the number of tourists from the United States, Russia, and Japan has decreased. Mr Sajda told Radio Prague which areas have been affected the most following the events of September 11th.

"For the Czech Republic, it was also a very sad moment but tourism was negatively influenced, especially in Prague, in the four and five star hotels, and it also had a negative impact on Czech Airlines."

That was Dr. Cestmir Sajda from the Ministry of Regional Development...