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Prague City Tourism presents Czech capital as unrivalled beer gastronomy centre

 
photo:  (Barbora Kmentová)
 

Prague City Tourism has just launched a million-crown-campaign aimed at attracting more Czech visitors to Prague. The campaign provides a powerful incentive for people to overcome their reluctance to spend money at home: a wide variety of the best beers, special discount offers and good food. I asked Kateřina Pavlítová, Marketing Director at Prague City Tourism, to tell me more about what the campaign has to offer.

 

“We at Prague City Tourism are really trying to encourage more Czech visitors to visit our capital city. Prague is a little bit exceptional in that the percentage of domestic visitors to the city is extremely low, it is only around 10 percent which is much lower than it would be in comparable cities like Vienna or Berlin. And it is our job to convince Czechs that Prague is worth visiting. We chose beer because –in addition to the fact that it is the national beverage –Prague has become a really fantastic centre of beer gastronomy, one that is on a par with or better than many other capital cities in Europe. This is actually something that is confirmed by foreign visitors who come to appreciate not just the relatively low price of Czech beer, but especially the amazing quality and variety of beer that is offered in the Czech Republic. But it is actually not widely known yet around the rest of the country – that Prague now has up to 25 breweries and micro-breweries and there is also an incredible variety of businesses that cater to the beer loving public, pubs and beer bars have up to 40 or even more beers on tap and these would be both Prague-made beers and beers from the rest of the country and some imported beers as well. So it is really no exaggeration to say that Prague is really a place where you can taste a whole world of beer in one place.”

Obviously beer is extremely popular with Czechs and is consumed around the country but why do you think that people from Moravia or South Bohemia will want to come to Prague to drink beer? They already drink it at home…why did beer win out over culture? Is beer the magic word in this country do you think?

“Well, there has actually been a very pronounced change in the habits of the beer drinking public and the large industrial breweries which until recently completely dominated the field of beer manufacturing in the country are seeing their profits plummet, while micro-breweries and small breweries are seeing the opposite trend, so there is obviously a great interest in specialty beers. Our domestic genre is the pale lager – the style of beer that was invented in Pilsen but there are many other kinds of beer now being made and while you are certainly right in that there are fantastic local breweries around the country, only Prague offers the possibility to taste them all. Here you can taste regional beers from Moravia and south Bohemia and west Bohemia and north Bohemia and from Prague in a single beer bar –which is something that no other place in the Czech Republic offers and actually no other place in the world offers.”

So, to be specific, what exactly is it that you are offering domestic visitors to Prague?

“First of all, there’s a website that is in Czech at the moment but we are preparing an English language version as well – it is called Do Prahy za Pivem which translates roughly “to follow the beer to Prague” and it is a database of the best beer establishments in Prague ranging from breweries to the beer bars I mentioned to specialty shops and restaurants with an emphasis on beer gastronomy so it will make it very easy for people to find a place that they would like to try and we are offering them both a guide to these establishments in paper form or downloadable from the website and a special coupon book which is valid for the duration of the campaign which is from the 27th of October until the end of November and in addition to that the website also offers specially priced hotel accommodation from about 30 hotels in Prague. One of the issues Prague has within the domestic tourism context is that it is perceived as being relatively expensive in terms of accommodation which is in fact a completely misguided perception because Prague due to the extreme competitiveness of the hotel industry here offers hotel rates that are often lower than those in regional capitals such as Brno, Olomouc or Liberec. So to convince people that Prague is worth visiting we are offering them heavily discounted, very affordable accommodations, a fantastic guide to the beer establishments in Prague and a coupon book which will give them either discounts or added value at about 30 Prague beer establishments listed on the site. We think that it is a very attractive incentive and of course in addition to the beer they get to experience everything else that Prague has to offer. ”

How many visitors are you hoping to attract?

“It is actually difficult for me to give you a target number because this is not just about bringing those people to Prague this year –it is also about spreading the word about this particular product that Prague has –the fantastic beer culture, but I would say we’ll be happy if the numbers are over a thousand, because it is the first year, the inaugural year of the campaign and we will judge its results based on the feedback that we get both from the hotels and the restaurants but also based on how many people click through the website. ”

Why is it so hard to attract Czechs to the capital –is it the feeling that they are staying at home and not getting their money’s worth –that they could be going to a seaside resort for the same price?

"Well, the reason is that as I said Prague has a bit of an image of an expensive city and people feel that what is in their own country doesn’t have the right to be expensive somehow. They would not think twice about spending good money to stay in other cities abroad but somehow they feel offended that in Prague they would be required to pay for accommodation –so a lot of Czechs visit Prague but only for a day trip or stay with friends and relatives and we are trying to change that. That’s one thing and secondly people do not often realize how much there is to see and do in Prague, because they feel that they have been there, they know it and that is what we are trying to change –to show that Prague is not just Prague Castle and the Zoo and the Vltava River and the architecture. That is what everybody has seen at some point in their lives, because every Czech takes a trip to Prague as a school child but there are new things, affordable things, fun things for people to do and it is our job to convince them to come and try it and see that it is something worth doing.”

We are talking about beer tourism here –clearly not about family trips to Prague – so who are the people you want to attract – male visitors predominantly?

“Actually, I am glad you asked this question, because I would like to avoid using the term “beer- tourism”. This is not beer tourism. We are telling people to come and visit Prague and among other things to try one of the establishments that are associated with the beer culture. You do not talk about wine tourism when you go to Paris. Its tourism –period. You go to Paris to see the sights and of course you are going to have some wine and you are going to have some great food because that is what Paris is about. Well, Prague happens to have a great beer culture so we are just encouraging people to be a bit more adventurous and informed about what there is in terms of the beer culture. Also, you might be surprised that the clientele in the beer establishments is not nearly exclusively male –in fact up to 40 to 50 percent of the clients of many of these places are women and additionally if you go to these websites you will be able to filter establishments which are friendly to families, which is some of the newer breweries or some of the restaurants. And if you are not interested in going to a pub or brewery you can still go to a fantastic restaurant that will serve the best-quality beer you can possibly taste unless you go directly to the brewery.”

The timing of this campaign is at a time when few Czechs travel and if so they usually head for exotic foreign destinations. So, why November?

“Well actually, you might be surprised to learn that November is the most popular month for Czechs to visit Prague –so that is the simple reason.”

What draws them to Prague at this time of year?

“I believe that the reason for that is possibly Christmas shopping. We do not have hard data on what makes November particularly popular for visits to Prague but it just so happens and luckily that is also a month when the foreign visitors peter out so it is possible for the hotels to offer very good prices. Hopefully Czechs will appreciate that the prices at the hotels we offer range from as low as 950 crowns per night to about 2,500 which is very affordable and that’s for a double room with breakfast.”

You said the beer map will also be coming out in English in due time – are you planning to expand this to foreign visitors who would greatly appreciate it?

“We are not planning a concerted one-month campaign aimed at the international market and also it would be pointless to offer any discounts because the prices are already very attractive as they are. But we certainly want to focus on the beer gourmets –the people who are truly interested in discovering different types of beer in combination with gastronomy. So we are not promoting this to what is the popular perception of people who come to Prague for beer which is the drunken hordes of British men and stag parties which is no longer something that happens a lot these days and or something that we are interested in promoting. What I would like to say again is that we just want to emphasize this fantastic beverage which is part of our national heritage and we are extremely good at it. We offer more variety, more quality, than for example Munich or even London. We have more breweries per capita than London does and the stunning variety of beer that you can try in Prague is practically unequalled by any other place in Europe. So yes, we realize that beer is one of the main attractions of Prague and we are putting this brochure out in English within a week’s time, we will possibly publish it in Russian as well and when we see how well it does we’ll consider other language versions. ”

 
 
Author: Český rozhlas Radio Praha
 
Added: 23.10.2014
 
 
 

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