Prague records whopping 94 percent fall in tourists in second quarter

Photo: Ian Willoughby

Tourism was, unsurprisingly, one of hardest hit sectors when the Czech Republic’s borders were shut during the country’s coronavirus lockdown. Figures released on Friday have confirmed the worst. In the second quarter visitors were down 83 percent nationally – and no less than 94 percent in Prague.

In 2019 tourism in the Czech Republic was absolutely booming. Nearly 22 million guests stayed at the country’s hotels and other accommodation facilities, a new record for the industry.

Things obviously took a turn for the worse this year. The first cases of Covid-19 were detected on March 1 and weeks later the country’s borders were shut as the government moved to combat the epidemic.

Figures released on Friday confirmed just how bad things actually got. At national level less than one million visitors stayed overnight between the start of April and the end of June – a year-on-year fall of 82.9 percent.

What’s more, the overwhelming majority of tourists that were recorded were either Czech nationals or residents of the country, one analyst told Czech Television.

Photo: Paul Ingles, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In addition, stays were on average shorter than in 2019.

In Prague the fall was especially precipitous, with second-quarter visitor numbers down by no less than 93.6 percent on the same period last year.

Klara Malá, a spokesperson for Prague City Tourism, says the situation has been so chaotic since Covid-19 hit that the agency had no idea of what kind of figures to expect.

However, she says, there has been some upturn since the end of the second quarter, partly because of a campaign aimed at attracting domestic tourists to the capital.

“The situation has improved, because border have been opened. Most visitors are coming from neighbouring countries, like Germany, Slovakia and Austria.”

Do you have a sense that the campaign to bring tourists to Prague from other parts of the Czech Republic is having an impact already?

“Yes, the campaign At Home in Prague is working. Thanks to this campaign 30,000 people have come to Prague.

“Hotels give out up to 1,000 vouchers a day. Fifty percent of the people visiting Prague are doing so thanks to these vouchers.

“Basically for every night they spend in Prague they get two points that they can use to gain entry to some monument or sight or museum.”

Does Prague City Tourism have any idea, or would you even dare to imagine, when, or if, we will see numbers coming to Prague as we saw in the past? For example, last year there was a record number of tourists in this country – do you think that will come back?

“Now it’s a hard question for us, because the situation is changing every day.

“Maybe many tourists will be afraid to travel abroad, so it’s a very hard question for us in these times.”