A year ago we reported on a brave young Czech couple who decided to conquer the world on their bicycles. Lucie Kovarikova and Michal Jon told their bosses they were taking a three-year holiday, packed their bags, got on their bikes and set off on May 1st last year. First they headed north, to Germany and via Denmark they carried on to Greenland and then they cycled through Scandinavia. In Russia they said good-bye to Europe, rode through Mongolia, China, South Korea and Japan and then took a flight to Australia and made a short stopover in Tasmania.
Does a country need to advertise itself to attract tourists or is it a task for private tourist industry to attract visitors? Who are Prague's main competitors? And what is the Czech Republic doing to promote itself in a situation when revenues from tourism plunged so deep in 2002 as to cut one percent off GDP growth? In this week's edition, we talk to a representative of the Czech Tourist Authority in London about how the Czech Republic tries to present itself to tourists abroad and what kind of visitors it would like to attract.
What are some of the problems that tourists encounter when they visit the Czech Republic? Well, the Czech Tourist Authority and other groups concerned with the Czech tourism industry have highlighted poor conditions at train stations, misleading advertising at bureaux de change and unqualified foreign tourist guides. And the Czech Tourist Authority's ultimate goal is to have all of these areas improved.
During the communist period, Czechs did not have much choice when it came to deciding where to go on a foreign holiday. They could travel relatively easily to their "brotherly" communist states in Eastern Europe, but it was much more difficult to get the authorities' permission for travel to the West. So, if a Czech wanted to spend some time by the sea, they would most likely to do so in East Germany or Poland by the Baltic Sea, by Hungary's Lake Balaton, or in the Black Sea resorts of Bulgaria, Romania or the Soviet Union. And if they were lucky,
However distant summer may seem in the bleak days of February, many people have already started planning their summer holidays. And as I found out at last week's huge travel fair in Prague, Czech travel agents, hotels and tour guides are busy preparing for all those foreign tourists that may want to spend their vacation in the Czech Republic.
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