Český Krumlov Mulls Over Charging Tourists a Toll

With its historic core overloaded by outsiders, the scenic city is currently considering charging admission—could Prague be next?

A recent op-ed published by Aktualne.cz raises questions about the negative effects of tourism on Prague and other Czech cities, saying that tourism not only has the potential to develop a city but to paralyze it.

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An influx of tourists came to the Czech Republic last year—a record 31.1 million foreign visitors, up nearly 12 percent from 2015—a triumph for entrepreneurs, the gross domestic product, and politicians. 

But it’s not necessarily good news for the locals, says author Jan Lipold, citing these census figures: In 1980 in Prague 1, there were 53,000 inhabitants, in 1991, 43,000; today there are less than 30,000. 

Prague 2 has seen a similar decline—since 1991 the area has decreased by more than 30,000 inhabitants.

The exodus of locals is a problem that has recently plagued other historic European cities including Venice and Barcelona.

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Barcelona has gone so far as to ban new hotels in the tourist center while beginning to regulate tourism more strictly, with the mayor saying tourists can be beneficial to the economy but they also disrupt the lives of locals and burden transport services and water resources. 

A KPMG report for the city of Český Krumlov proposed whether or not the city should charge admission to its Old Town. 

“At present, there is an overloading of the historical core. In the future, it will lead to the need for active regulation instruments in order to preserve the authenticity of the cultural values but also the genius loci and the atmosphere of the city,” said a representative from the town hall.

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While Lepold says that a tourist toll is hardly feasible for Prague 1, he points to the proposed dry law in convenience stores or the anti-conflict teams roaming the streets of Old Town as well as the banning of bicycles in pedestrian zones as examples of the negative side effects of tourism.

His final word: “The city of Prague must have a well thought out strategy that not only promotes tourism but has an interest in defending its inhabitants.”

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