Czech Republic seeks Mideast travellers

Hartmann … upbeat

THE Czech Republic is seeking to attract visitors from the Middle East with a new promotional strategy, first deputy minister for regional development of the Czech republic Ivo Hartmann told TTN.

'The Czech Republic is a peaceful, fun, fine destination – and we have an increased advertising budget that will include a heavy spend on satellite channels to invite people to our country,' he explained.
Already in place is an agreement with Kanoo Travels to prepare a common brochure and to organise familiarisation trips for journalists and agents alike.
Additionally, the country opened an office in Saudi Arabia earlier this year and is in negotiations to open more in the UAE and Bahrain.
The country is strong in spa tourism, and there is much appreciation for Czech spas such as Marianske Lazne and Frantskovy Lazne in the Middle East, said Hartmann. 'Our spas orientate programmes to wellness rather than healthcare in line with the growing trend. One of the advantages of joining the European Union is the access to EU funds, which will help develop our infrastructure and services, particularly in the spa tourism area.' Other benefits of the country’s recent accession to Europe are access to the European common market, a greater ease of travelling for visitors from both Europe and the rest of the world.
The republic also hopes to attract a larger percentage of convention tourists. Officials hope the country’s hosting of the American Society of Travel Agents 2006 Congress will help the image of the Czech republic. 'The Nato and IMF summits we hosted were among the most successful,' said Hartmann.
Part of the country’s tourism plans now are to promote regional tourism, said Hartmann. 'It’s three hours to Berlin, two hours to Vienna and two hours to Bratislava. We already have a treaty with Slovakia, Poland and Hungary to promote ourselves as one product overseas. In the Middle East, however, promotion will be by the individual countries.'