Adamcová: Prague turns against mass tourism, targets premium visitors

Robert McLean

#cee, #proptech, #development a #architecture

It may sound incredible, but for the first time ever, Prague has a strategy for tourism.

How can that be possible, in a city that was drowning visitors until March 2020? How could it simply be improvising? It turns out that mass tourism turns out to be the result of bad or simply non-existent planning.

Amazingly, Prague’s first-ever strategy will likely be appreciated by anyone who works in the center, or has the misfortune to live there. Because Prague is now developing its ability to attract “premium” visitors. Part of this involves a new PR campaign featuring bold visuals that it will promote around Europe, Israel and Russia. The city is also limiting its contacts and cooperation with companies that take part primarily in mass tourism activities.

Jana Adamcová, board member at the city-owned company Prague City Tourism (PCT), describes the strategy as an attempt “to balance the quality of life of people who live here on the one hand, with the need for economic revenues from tourism. It’s responding to complaints from local residents want to live in the center, but who find the old levels of tourism to be unbearable.

Adamcová admits that the volume of tourists was growing recently at an alarming pace. But she insists that the level of local democracy is also rising, and that local politicians are listening to their constituents. In her interpretation, change would have come sooner or later. But the unexpected pandemic made a reset of Prague’s tourism policies possible far sooner than would have been possible.

“We didn’t systematically communicate what we wanted in the past,” says Adamcová. “That’s why we had such a flood [of tourists]. Nobody built any dams. What we want now are tourists who will respect the life of the city. Who will respect the high quality of the public space here and will act accordingly. The others are not welcome.”

That’s a pretty clear vision.

So is her answer to what I thought might be a more delicate question: what does this new strategy meant for Airbnb. Would the city would be promoting its services as it is other local retailers and service providers? No way. “For this campaign, we’re not promoting Airbnb because they’re not there yet. It’s not that that we don’t wish them business success. But they need to play under the same regulations as the other players.”

The message for Airbnb is a transparent one. “You are welcome here if you’ll behave like a hotel. It means if you’ll pay taxes, if you do what has to be done.”

One remarkable result of the new strategy is that even the volume of cheap tourist souvenirs and trashy trinkets should fall. “In buildings that are owned by the city, there is also a special agreement that they won’t be used for selling this kind of crap,” says Adamcová with refreshing frankness.

What most people will end up seeing is the new marketing campaign that centers around interesting, dynamic Prague residents doing interesting things. In practice, this means that the pictures and videos for the company focus on individuals, while the city serves merely as a background.

“The campaign works by putting people first,” explains Adamcová. “Our lifestyle comes first and the city itself is just the backdrop. Because until now the presentation of Prague was sort of preserved, or embalmed. It was dead, basically. And a city without people has no authenticity…We want to build Prague’s image based on people and not based on the stones that make up the city.”

 

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