Tourism to Prague and the Czech Republic continues to rise. And so does a particular breed of tourists, one that has led the city to take action against nighttime noise levels and now-popular Prague beer bikes.
During the first half of 2018, 3.5 million visitors stayed overnight in the Czech capital – an increase of about 130,000 compared to the same period in 2017. During peak tourist season, there are now more short-term visitors living in central Prague than long-term residents.
And not all of them came to take in the historic landmarks. Some come to Prague to take advantage of the cheap Czech beer and other, more salacious aspects of the city.
In fact, Prague is the UK’s #1 destination abroad for stag parties, according to a recent study – – something that every resident in the city’s center can attest to.
And complaints by those residents about the numbers of tourists in the Czech capital, and the kind of tourist traffic that Prague attracts, has been duly noted by officials in the city center.
Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and Old Town Square are “are on the edge, those places are already overflowing,” says Prague 1 Mayor Oldřich Lomecký, as reported by iDnes.cz.
“It is necessary to create a concept that would transfer tourism to other parts of the city,” Lomecký advises, calling for a shift of tourist traffic from central Prague to less-visited areas like Prague Zoo and Troja’s Botanical Gardens.
But Lomecký also wants to curb the kinds of tourists that may be more interested in booze than culture. That could involve a lengthy process of changing Prague’s image among many as a haven for cheap beer and other delights.
In the short-term, however, he has another solution: an alcohol tax in the city center. According to Lomecký, a tax on alcohol in the city center that would bring alcohol prices in Prague 1 closer to the levels of Germany or Austria would ensure a better breed of tourists, and have a positive impact on the center of Prague.
Exactly what that tax would entail, and when and where it would be applied, was not detailed. But Lomecký’s sentiments echo many a long-term resident of Prague’s city center.
“A target for cheap tourists, that’s what Prague 1 is worth,” he said. “We do not want to be an alcohol destination.”