Prague, Czech Republic – Do you find it more and more difficult to cross the Charles bridge during daytime? Well, there’s a simple explanation for that.
According to data released by the Czech statistical office, 2018 was a record-breaking year for tourism in Prague and the Czech Republic as a whole, recently ranked as the second most welcoming country in the world. Over 21.3 million people visited the country last year – roughly twice the size of the Czech population, and 1.3 million more than the previous year.
This marks an increase of more than 6% year-on-year, keeping in mind that these figures only reflect the number of guests staying in collective accommodation establishments. Roughly half of the total number of guests were foreign tourists: they were 10.6 million last year – almost equal to the country’s population – coming mostly from neighboring European countries. However, the number of domestic guests increased more quickly (+8.1%) than the number of foreign guests staying in the Czech Republic (+4.7%). In the meantime, the total number of nights spent by guests in Czech establishments reached 55.5 million – 2.3 million more than in 2017.
Besides the domestic guests, where did the foreign tourists come from? As in previous years, Germany remains the most importance source country (over 2 million, +3.6% compared to the previous year), followed by Slovakia (735.000 people) and Poland (620.000).
However, the most important increase came from Chinese tourists, who were 619.000 (yearly increase of more than 26%) to come to admire the historical wonders of Bohemia, the cultural oddities of Moravia or the dozen UNESCO World Heritage sites the country has to offer. This important hike can mostly be put on the account of the direct flights that opened in the last few years between China and the Czech Republic: direct air connections now operate between Prague and three Chinese cities (Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu).
Many tourists also came from the United States (555.000), Russia (545.000, a slight decrease compared to 2017), the UK. (497.000), South Korea (416.000), Italy (410.000) and Austria (300.000).
Prague remains the most popular destination for tourists visiting the Czech Republic (7.9 million, including 6.7 million foreign visitors). By many accounts, the Czech capital city has also suffered from this tourism boom, bringing municipal authorities to regulate more closely Airbnb rentals, for instance, or to appoint a “night-life” mayor to regulate the excesses of late-night drunken partying in the Old Town. An official tourist pass is also under discussion to help tourists get around and enjoy their stay as most as they can.
Another sought-after destination in the Czech Republic was Brno’s Jihomoravsky region (more than 2 million visitors, including 685.000 foreign tourists). Tourism has been increasing in every single Czech region except for the Pardubicky province, located roughly two hours east of Prague.