The Czech Republic must take action in the field of tourism, our neighbors are running away from us

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“What are our neighbors doing” was the theme of the 8th edition of the largest tourism conference in the Czech Republic, Travelcon 2024. From the speeches of foreign speakers, a fundamental thing emerges – tourism in the Czech Republic needs a functional system and financing, the neighboring states are ahead in this direction. A record number of participants gathered at the conference, and the date for the next year has already been set.

One of the main topics of this year’s conference, which was attended by a record number of 457 participants, was primarily the comparison of tourism in the Czech Republic with neighboring countries. Representatives from Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia took the podium and presented their approach to tourism and related activities. Although the examples from individual countries were different, they were united by one general basis – a national functional system of management and financing of the tourism industry. “Our neighbors approach tourism as an industry and try to fully exploit its potential. Whether it is promoting tourism, managing it, building infrastructure or organizing large events, it is always supported by a funding system and functional legislation in a given country. These conditions in the neighboring states help the local tourism industry to develop rapidly, and we just watch as our neighbors run away from us by leaps and bounds.” says the director of the South Bohemian Central Office of Tourism Peter Soukup.

We are talking, for example, about the system of financing tourism arising from the law, as they approach this issue, for example, in Austria. The Slovak approach to the conference was then presented by Tomáš Ondrčka, general director of the tourism section at the newly established Ministry of Tourism and Sports, together with Judit Šipekiová from the national tourism support agency Slovakia Travel. Slovakia not only established the Ministry of Tourism this year, but at the same time, after the Covid period, increased the budget of the Slovakia Travel agency from 14 million euros in 2021 to 26 million euros (approx. 650 million CZK) in 2023 and 2024. To compare the agency’s budget CzechTourism for 2024 is CZK 400 million (CZK 430 million in 2021). Slovaks have understood the importance of this industry and approach it as an investment that has a good return. This is also why advertising for Slovakia currently fills advertising space in Europe across various channels, including television. “We already discussed the issue of the missing tourism financing system in the Czech Republic at Travelcon two years ago. Since then, not much has happened at the state level, for example, we have been initiating the creation of a law on tourism modeled after Austria for many years, but according to the MMR, we will not see it before 2035. While we are talking about tourism in the Czech Republic, the neighbors from its development they profit diligently,” supplies Marie Chadimovácoordinator of the Travelcon conference.

The very first lecture on Thursday’s program was about the fact that tourism and support for the development of related infrastructure is also an important investment for the South Bohemian Region. In addition to JCCR director Petr Soukup, the head of the regional development department of the South Bohemian Region, Petr Hornát, and the director of the destination company took part in it Tomáš Polanskywhich supplies: “Sustainable tourism is important for South Bohemia. Here in Budějovice, we try to perceive it as an industry that brings significant financial resources and employment to the region. Revenues from tourism for the year 2023 in the South Bohemian Region amounted to 11.6 billion crowns, of which 2 billion fell to the Budějovicko tourist area alone. We then understand sustainability in the balance between tourists and local residents and in the contribution that this industry has to the local community. For example, tourism helps us implement and operate investments that are subsequently used by local residents, but without tourism it would be difficult to finance them. At the same time, tourism must not destroy the uniqueness of our region” In the future, the region and the city of České Budějovice want to focus on congress tourism and corporate and sports events. This segment of the so-called MICE tourism is beneficial in the off-season and helps spread the economic effect of tourism throughout the year.

The conference also brought topics from the field of marketing and current technologies. For example, Andy Sitta from Seznam Brand Studio or Dominika Ratajová from the Síté v málíček project made their contributions. Participants could also participate in several workshops or network with technology and service partners who had their booths in the foyer. During the conference, 10 episodes of the Travelcon podcast with selected guests were created, which will be available on South Bohemia channels and podcast platforms in the coming days. During the two conference days, a total of 155 liters of selected coffee were consumed. The retro stand with the iconic Buda picador accompanied by beer from the national brewery Budějovický Budvar, which is a partner of the conference, was also a success. The event took place at the České Budějovice Exhibition Center in the reconstructed National Pavilion Z, which is part of Budějovice’s infrastructure for congress tourism. As in previous years, the partner of the event was the CzechTourism agency and the Institute of Tourism.

The next edition of the Travelcon professional conference has already been fixed on April 10-11, 2025. All information will be available at www.travelcon.cz.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Czech Republic action field tourism neighbors running

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