Sites in Prague not surprisingly dominated the list of most-visited Czech tourist attractions, taking six out of the top 10 spots on CzechTourism’s annual ranking.
Prague Castle again was in first place, with 2,444,900 visitors in 2018, and increase of 2.8 percent over the previous year. The Castle had several special events for the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia, including an exhibition of the crown jewels.
Second place went to the Petřín Funicular, with 2,032,300 visitors, a drop of 1.8 percent, likely due to closures for maintenance. The top three was completed by Prague Zoo, with 1,427,500, a drop of 1.2 percent. The zoo earlier attributed the drop to high temperatures in the summer and the lack of the Stromovka footbridge, which collapsed at the end of 2017.
Other locations in Prague on the top 10 were the Petřín Tower in seventh place with 697,600, down 2.2 percent, the Pinkas Synagogue in eighth place with 682,100, up 1.1 percent, and Old Town Hall in 10th place, with 599,500, up a whopping 58.8 percent. This latter increase was due to Old Town Hall being closed throughout much of 2017 for renovations.
Places outside of Prague in the top 10 were: Dolní Vítkovice, Ostrava, the site of the Colours of Ostrava music festival, in fourth place; AquaPalace Praha in just outside Prague in Čestlice in fifth place; Aqualand Moravia in Pasohlávky in sixth place; and Zoo Zlín in ninth place.
These figures, though, show that some locations are facing a lot of congestion. Overtourism was one of the words of the year for 2018, according to the Oxford Dictionary.
“It is necessary to work wisely with tourism, it is our Czech oil,” Jan Herget, the new director of CzechTourism said. “In developed countries, oil and gas extraction does not burden the environment or the local population. This can also apply to tourism in our country. When we sell the advantages of the Czech Republic abroad, we recommend that tourists and travel agencies seek alternatives to the seasonally congested centers of Prague, Český Krumlov or Adršpach,” he added.
Last year, some 429,000 people visited the Český Krumlov’s state castle and chateau, putting it in 18th place. “The town of Český Krumlov itself is visited by an estimated 2 million people per year. We take tourism as an opportunity and not as a threat because we get 40 percent of our jobs from it,” Český Krumlov Deputy Mayor Martin Hák said.
“Since June, we have begun to regulate the number of short-term visitors, for example, by introducing a coach parking system. This gave us a new source of funding for the city’s budget, with 16,000 such buses coming to us every year. … We also plan to improve the visitor discount card and include activities outside the city,” Hák said, adding that bike path projects were also part of the overall plan to attract active tourists and spread them to other nearby sights in South Bohemia.
Adršpach is an area on the Polish border with an attractive natural landscape that was featured in the 2005 film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It had more than 280,000 tourists in 2018, according to the Society for Destination Management of the Broumov Region. In peak season, though, it lacks the infrastructure for the crowds. The trails become crowded and cars are parked in private driveways. The region is seeking ways to regulate the amount of tourism while not reducing the economic benefit.
“Everyone can benefit from tourism, while minimizing the burden on life in cities and regions. Tourism is a significant part of our national wealth,” Herget said. The share of tourism in the Czech Republic’s gross domestic product was 2.9 percent last year, with 239,000 people working in tourism. “For comparison, Czech agriculture generated 2.8 percent of GDP and only half of jobs,” Herget said.
The minister for regional development also encouraged tourists to seek more diverse areas. ““I am pleased that new names are becoming increasingly popular in the list of attractive tourist destinations, and that tourists are traveling outside busy locations. We want to achieve their greater regional dispersion, which CzechTourism fulfills primarily with the help of marketing campaigns at 24 foreign offices,” Regional Development Minister Klára Dostálová (ANO) said.
Top 25 Czech destinations in 2018
1 Prague Castle (Pražský hrad), Prague
2 Petřín Funicular (Lanová dráha na Petřín), Prague
3 Prague Zoo (Zoologická zahrada hl. m. Prahy). Prague
4 Dolní Vítkovice, Ostrava, Moravia-Silesia
5 AquaPalace Praha, Čestlice, Central Bohemia
6 Aqualand Moravia, Pasohlávky, South Moravia
7 Petřín Tower (Petřínská rozhledna) Prague
8 Pinkas Synagogue (Pinkasova synagoga), Prague
9 ZOO Zlín, Zlín, Southeast Moravia
10 Old Town Hall (Staroměstská radnice), Prague
11 Pilsner Urquell Brewery (Pivovar Plzeňský Prazdroj), Plzeň, West Bohemia
12 Ostrava Zoo (Zoologická zahrada Ostrava), Ostrava, Moravia-Silesia
13 ZOO Dvůr Králové, Dvůr Králové nad Labem, East Bohemia
14 ZOO Plzeň, Plzeň, Plzeň, West Bohemia
15 Klaus Synagogue (Klausová synagoga), Prague
16 Spanish Synagogue (Španělská synagoga), Prague
17 Bone Church (Kostnice), Kutná Hora – Sedlec, Central Bohemia
18 Český Krumlov Chateau (Státní hrad a zámek Český Krumlov), Český Krumlov, South Bohemia
19 iQLandia science center, Liberec, North Bohemia
20 Kamnitz Gorge (Soutěsky Kamenice), České Švýcarsko, North Bohemia
21 Lednice Chateau (Státní zámek Lednice), Lednice, South Moravia
22 Aquapark Uherské Hradiště, Uherské Hradiště, Southeast Moravia
23 Prague Botanical Garden (Botanická zahrada hl. m. Prahy) Prague
24 Petřín Mirror Maze (Bludiště na Petříně), Prague
25 Liberec Zoo (Zoologická zahrada Liberec), Liberec, North Bohemia