Trends in tourism in Czech Republic after September 11

Old Town Square in Prague

In the wake of the September events in the United States world tourism is facing a crisis comparable to the one after the Gulf War. But it seems that the habit of vacationing and travelling is an important part of modern life and the tourism industry always recovers. Pavla Horakova looks at the trends in tourism in the Czech Republic.

According to the Czech Statistical Office, the number of trips Czechs made abroad in 2001 was more than five percent lower than in the year 2000. On the other hand, figures for air travel increased by almost 27 percent compared to the previous year, despite the difficulties the airline business is experiencing internationally.

Miroslav Ehl is the general secretary of the Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agents of the Czech Republic. I asked him how the September events in the United States and their implications affected tourism in the Czech Republic.

"The Czech Republic suffered some losses in inbound and outbound tourism. But if we take it as a whole, it was not dramatic. Obviously luxury hotels and the airline business suffered heavy losses but some areas like tourism within European countries were just slightly lower than in the previous year. We can see that even in November and December of last year, the trend was increasing and in January, most of our travel agents did not see any substantial losses."

Is there any new trend in the choice of destinations? Miroslav Ehl again.

"As a general trend we can see that people enquire about travel within Europe. There is not a trend of going for exotic destinations too much, but again, if we take tourism to and from the Czech Republic, we do not expect any decrease in comparison with the previous year."

So, many Czechs will choose domestic destinations for their holiday this year. I asked Miroslav Ehl whether the Czech Republic was a safe tourist destination after the September events.

"I think Prague is a safe destination. There was a conference on safety in Eastern Europe and most delegates agreed that Central Europe and obviously Prague is a safe destination."