“Tourism is more important than agriculture in the long term,” points out the president of the Trade and Tourism Association Tomáš Prouzawho reminds us that the tourism industry also thrives without subsidies.
That the field is more important than it might seem at first glance, Aleš Rod, a member of the National Economic Council (NERV), also points out. According to him, it is the seventh largest in the Czech Republic in terms of number of employees. However, the tourism industry still did not manage to catch up with the performance it had before covid and the state should be interested because “it is not true that every crown counts, but every crown is multiplied”.
The numbers prove it. In 2019, consumption linked to tourism in the Czech Republic according to Rod, it reached 308 billion crowns. However, the economic effect caused by the multiplication of these expenses reached a value of up to 624 billion crowns. Total revenues from the sector for public budgets this year reached 124.8 billion crowns. Thus, tourism accounted for 3 percent of the Czech GDP.
Last year it was only 1.55 percent of GDP, The Czech Republic is thus below the European average. Austria, which is smaller, is also better off. “So you can see that there is no excuse for the sea,” points out Rod. “The budget of the Czechtourism agency is similar to that of a mountain valley in Austria,” Libor Knot, director of the Association of Mountain Resorts of the Czech Republic, explains the different approaches.
According to the former head of Czechtourism, Jan Herget, a comparison with Slovenia is also offered. It is not a large western country, on the contrary, it is also smaller than the Czech Republic, it cannot attract the sea… and tourism flourishes there far more than in our country. “Slovenia is beating us,” states Herget. Even Poland managed to build a brand for itself. “Remember how we laughed at Poland 5 years ago. And now a lot of people have Poland as a role model,” recalls Prouza.
Industry representatives thus agree that if the government supported tourism more, it would be a great benefit for public finances. “The key message that we should also send to the state when we have a consolidation package,” says Alena Klimt from the Union of Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic.
Lack of employees
But what should this support look like? Representatives explain that tourism is experiencing problems in several areas. Rod says the situation won’t get better until he does to investments in education and digitization, reducing bureaucracy and developing infrastructure. We should also teach tourists to travel to the regions so that they are not only in Prague. Last but not least, work will need to be replaced by technology.
According to Václav Starek, president of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants of the Czech Republic, it is the labor shortage that is particularly painful. “We have a fundamental crisis on the labor market here (…) we have reached a situation where various entrepreneurs have to refuse orders because they have no way to secure them,” explains. And he adds an example – 80 percent of vocational school graduates leave outside their field. So not enough people stay in the tourism industry.
According to him, the entire employment system needs to be simplified, because increasing quotas for foreigners is not enough. According to Prouza, it deserves special attention regulation of employment in the spa industry, where there is a lack of professional staff and foreigners cannot replace him under the current conditions. “If we insist that the biggest criterion for every masseur is knowledge of the Czech language, we won’t get anywhere,” means
The Tourism Act will not. What’s next?
According to industry representatives, the first step will be to obtain accurate statistical data on tourism in the Czech Republic, from which it will then be possible to devise comprehensive strategies. This data should be provided by the upcoming eTurista system, but the reactions to it are mixed so far. Klimt pointed out that the Union of Cities and Municipalities, for example, has not seen any overview of how it is supposed to function, even though it is already deployed in pilot mode in the Krkonoše Mountains. “If we don’t have any analysis, we can’t say that eTurista meets our expectations,” she pointed out.
eTurista will introduce electronic registration of tourists in the Czech Republic, it is also supposed to facilitate the collection of local fees. The Ministry of Regional Development is working on it, which wants to launch the project in 2025. The system was announced by the program statement of the government of Petr Fiala (ODS).
It is governed by the program statement also committed to the adoption of the Act on Tourism, which was supposed to provide a framework for tourism in the Czech Republic, however, in late August, the Department of Regional Development said it would not create the law. He wants to take a non-legislative route in support. Herget was not particularly surprised because, according to him, The Czech Republic has not yet been able to introduce even a unified visual.
“Here in the Czech Republic, we completely reject the fundamental elementary rules of marketing,” the ex-head of Czechtourism points out that every office, region, institution, etc., has completely different logos, so when a tourist arrives, he can be confused. “I saw the first material about the unification of the visual material of the Czech Republic in 2005,” Prouza describes how long the issue has been resolved. According to him, even diplomats should not promote the Czech Republic as a destination in their job description. According to Herget, the law on tourism in the Czech Republic would not even work in this context.
But what could work? The field does not agree on this. “We’re constantly looking for a system, we’re constantly cycling, and I wonder why. Maybe because we don’t have a tourism ministry,” Silvia Doušová, director of the Department of Tourism at the Ministry of Regional Development, intends. According to her, the problem with the solution is precisely the fact that tourism affects several resorts. “Maybe it will help us to work more with that data,” outlines Doušová.
“Tourism and sports are all fields that complain that they are small and that no one listens to them,” Herget agrees that the creation of a new ministry would theoretically help. At the moment of the investigation, however, the completely new resort is not passable. In this way, the field can at least come together on platforms that already exist, this is starting to happen, for example, within the Chamber of Commerce of the Czech Republic. The material developed by the Trade and Tourism Association, which defines the priorities of the tourism industry, should also help with further direction.