CzechTourism Talks MICE, “Overtourism” At Toronto Lunch & Learn
with Kerry Sharpe
(L-R) CzechTourism's Jiri Duzar with David Müller, Vendula Ünden and Martin Lehky.
David Müller (left) with Jiri Duzar address the room of agents and travel media.
Tina the Travel Agent is already planning her trip to the Czech Republic!
CzechTourism was in town last week as part of IncentiveWorks 2018, an annual meetings & incentives show that takes place in Toronto. Making the most of their visit, the organization held a lunch & learn for agents and media where they – along with a couple of supplier partners – took the room through a quick overview of the destination, its popularity among Canadians, and what it offers the MICE industry.
On hand for the lunch: Jiri Duzar, assistant director and digital & strategy manager for the Czech Tourist Authority-CzechTourism was joined by David Müller, head of the economic and trade section for the Czech Republic’s Toronto Consulate; Martin Lehky, partner and managing director for Senator Travel; and Vendula Ünden, managing director for Eastern Europe Tours.
Given the reason for their presence in Toronto, the main message targeted travel agents who book meetings & incentives trips, and it was basically “The Czech Republic and Prague, specifically, can accommodate your every MICE request.”
Duzar spoke of the many conference facilities and wide range of hotel options available in Prague, highlighting the fantastic public transportation network, the ease of navigation in the city, its high walkability, its proximity to the airport, the affordability, safety, and of course myriad historical attractions, including the more than 200 castles and 12 UNESCO sites in the country.
In 2017, Prague was selected as the 8thbest meeting destination according to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), and TripAdvisor ranked it as the 7thbest destination to visit. Prague was also awarded the title of one of the greenest cities in Europe.
“Prague offers more than 42,000 hotel rooms in all categories,” said Duzar. “We have more five-star hotels than Vienna or Madrid, and more than 200 four-star hotels of both international chains and small boutique brands. There is a wide variety of accommodation options to choose from, and venues and premises for conventions for all different sizes.”
Speaking more generally about the destination, Duzar said “We are really proud of our location. If any other country in Europe tells you that they are the heart of Europe, they’re wrong, we are the heart of Europe. You can get there conveniently from Toronto on a non-stop flight with Air Canada, and Air Transat as well during the summer season. You can also get to any other destination in Europe quite easily – Prague serves 157 destinations around the world.”
And for all of these reasons and more, Duzar also mentioned the fact that Prague is becoming overly popular, and experiencing “overtourism,” particularly during the peak summer months.
“I probably shouldn’t be saying that Prague is packed and we don’t want more people, we definitely want more people, but during the peak travel months it can be really busy. Sometimes even tourists say there are too many tourists,” said Duzar. “I would say the last three years have been increasingly busy. In 2015 there were 80,000 Canadian visitors, now we are close to almost 100,000 – it’s a lot.”
According to the 2017 annual report put out by Prague City Tourism, growing interest in the Czech capital was evident. For the fifth year running Prague set new record figures in terms of overnight stays (18M), as well as total visitor numbers (6.5M international visitors accounting for 85.8% of total visitors).Most arrivals were recorded in August and in July (some 770,000 visitors in both months), while in the first two months of the year the number choosing to visit the city reached some 400,000.
“If you want to see Prague at its best, I suggest you wake up early,” quipped Duzar.
“But Prague is not only about historic sites, it is also a very cosmopolitan, very vibrant city, with a great nightlife and shopping scene,” he continued. “And Prague, and the Czech Republic as a whole, offer great value for money.”
Kerry Sharpe Columnist
Having worked in travel for the last 16 years, Kerry has experience covering the industry as media, as well as being under its lens when she worked for Thomas Cook, TravelBrands and itravel2000. A new mom, Kerry recently returned to the workforce and when she’s not chasing after her daughter, you’ll see her out and about covering industry events alongside her new BFF Tina the Travel Agent.