The Botanicus chain of stores offering herbal soaps, extracts and delicacies is a Czech, and growing international, success story. Most tourists will have probably bought something from one of their outlets in the country. The small business was founded in the early 1990’s after the restitution of a family farm around 40 kilometres north-east of Prague. That has become the centre for the business and a tourist attraction with more than 50,000 visitors a year. One of the firm’s co-founders Dana Hradecká explained the roots of the original inspiration
The Czech Republic’s pavilion at the Expo 2010 fair in Shanghai welcomed its 2 millionth visitor over the weekend. Wu Pcho, a twenty-eight-year old businessman from China received books about the Czech Republic, a gift of Bohemia crystal and a crate of Czech beer. The head of the pavilion Miloslava Kumbarová said she was delighted with the success of the Czech undertaking. China has even expressed interest in buying the pavilion and apparently plans to move the complex to a town outside Shanghai.
Jana Zielinski is the director of Designblok, a Prague-based festival that brings together designers from the Czech Republic and abroad. What started 12 years ago as a small event targeted at design professionals, has blossomed into Prague’s biggest design festival, attracting 30,000 visitors last year. I spoke to Zielinski about her love for design, how the festival started and her plans for the future.
Last month Prague hosted Bookworld, one of Europe’s major international book fairs. Writers from around the world, whose work covers a Babel of different languages, converged on the Czech capital. As part of the event, six of the writers got together to talk about how literature can play a role in helping to build understanding between cultures. A lively discussion emerged, chaired by Radio Prague’s David Vaughan.
The heads of primary schools in Brno and the vicinity say they are shocked by a paintball company advertisement called “Come and shoot your teacher”. The advertisement arrived by mail and evoked a critical response from the local authorities. Deputy mayor Daniel Rychnovsky, who is responsible for education in the city, said the ad was in extremely bad taste in view of the growing incidence of school violence in the United States and Europe. The paintball company responsible has apologized for the ad, saying it was intended as a joke.
There has been a marked slowdown in the construction of large shopping centres in the Czech Republic, market specialists Cushman and Wakefield said. Eight new shopping centres should go into operation by the end this year; a year ago developers said they were planning to open twice that number in 2010. A representative of Cushman and Wakefield said that whereas previously building would begin when leases had been signed on 50 to 60 percent of a projected centre, now developers require at least 70 percent before they start construction.
As of June 1, product placement in soap operas or talk shows will become a legal way for television networks to increase their budgets in the Czech Republic. This change in law follows an EU directive aiming to provide some clear guidelines for product placement in television. Networks are obliged to air a disclaimer before any program that contains this form of advertising, but nonetheless, the line between advertising and programming has just become a bit more blurry. Media lawyer Martin Elger talks about the significance of this new law.
A week of activities aimed at promoting the Czech Republic has got underway in New York. Among the events due to take place are a presentation of the Czech Republic as a destination for tourism, a seminar for potential investors, and a show featuring the work of around a dozen fashion designers. The centre of activities is the Bohemian National Hall on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Members of the Czech international soccer team will be among the guests at a gathering there next Saturday; the players are in America for friendly games against the US and Turkey.
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