As the summer approaches many Czechs have begun planning their holidays, and those keen on travelling abroad couldn't choose a better time than now. The weakening US dollar, dropping tour prices, and above all higher spending power have all had an impact. In short, many vacations abroad for Czechs have never been cheaper.
Back in the early '90s Czechs were understandably hungry to travel after decades of restrictions in communist Czechoslovakia. But the situation then was not greatly to their advantage. The average monthly salary in 1990 was only around 3,000 crowns (the then-equivalent of around 90 US dollars). Choices were decidedly limited. Seventeen years later conditions are a world apart. Chief among the differences: a competitive market impacted by the possibility of cheaper flights, newer destinations and increasing demand that have all helped bring the price of package vacations down. Those factors, combined with a strong Czech currency and greater spending power means it has never been more advantageous for Czechs to travel outside the country. Tomio Okamura is the spokesman for the Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agencies (ACCKA):
"That is exactly the case with tours with flights included. In 1990 one week in Egypt cost about 25,000 crowns but currently the same week costs about 13,000. There is a similar situation regarding flight tickets. Regarding tours with flights included we've seen the cheapest price on the Czech market till now."
While nearby destinations like Croatia, Slovakia, Italy, and Greece continue to dominate as top "Czech" summer destinations, more exotic locations such as Egypt and other parts of northern Africa, or even Asia are increasingly in demand. Greater spending power too has changed just "how" Czechs vacation, with many opting for increased comfort and quality. Michal Tuma of the Invia tourist agency:
"Today Czechs ask more for four or five-star hotels than ten years ago and also they prefer more all-inclusive vacations. In terms of destinations Czechs are choosing to travel to more exotic places: the Caribbean, also south-east Asia, Africa. There are much cheaper flights right now. Also there are more charter flights: from Prague you can fly directly to Jamaica or India and that - the airlines not the operators - makes tours significantly less expensive than before."
Given the current advantages, some sources have reported, Czech travel agencies are hoping to sell as much as ten percent more package tours this year.
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