Tourists return to Prague, raising hopes for the summer season

By Ayan Abbasli, Suzanne Bessisso, Ines Plunger, Dominika Szapuova and Daniel Holko

Businesses in Prague are optimistic about a return to a normal summer season, with early signs that tourists have started to return to one of Europe’s most visited destinations after two years of pandemic-restricted travel.

With most COVID restrictions lifted across Europe, the city’s hotels are filling up, visitors are crowding across Charles Bridge, queuing to enter Prague Castle overlooking the Vltava River and sampling the famous beer Country pilsner.

At the Bakeshop, located in the heart of the Old Town, owner Martin Hofman said tour guides were bringing increasing numbers of foreign tourists looking to stock up at his upmarket American-style grocery store, which is also popular with students and locals. film industry workers.

He and others remain cautiously optimistic about the summer, but worry that rapidly rising inflation, war in Ukraine and a post-pandemic hangover could slow summer travel.

“Mai, so far, seems to be very strong,” Hofman said. “It seems like more young and wealthy people are traveling.”

Tourism is a key growth driver for this Central European country of 10.7 million people, accounting for around 8% of the Czech economy, with Prague being the country’s top destination.

Visitor income is particularly strong in the Czech capital, which ranks fourth among the most visited cities in Europe behind London, Paris and Rome.

Foreign visits began to increase during the Easter holidays, with more foreign travelers – especially from the United States – requesting information from tourist offices in the city, said Klara Mala, spokeswoman for Prague City Tourism.

“The coming season is extremely important for local businesses to get back on their feet,” Mala said. “Many companies disappeared and the others survived with difficulty.”

At the Globe Bookstore, owner Michael Sito sees a growing number of returning overseas visitors, many of whom ask for recommendations and sip coffee while perusing their guidebooks. The café began offering weekday brunches to attract the growing number of mainly European travellers.

“May is a good start, but we expect the summer to be stronger,” Sito said as he sat in the cafe which also has one of the largest selections of English books in Prague. “We’ve seen growth over last year because the fear of Covid has passed.”

Berta D. Wells