By Roy Mabasa
The Czech Republic is fast-becoming a major destination for Filipino tourists traveling to Europe, especially in Prague which now ranked as one of the top 10 most visited cities in the world.
According to Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olsa Jr., this was a far cry to the situation in early 2000 when nobody wanted to travel to Prague except for a handful of pilgrims who had visited the Sto. Nino de Praha (Prague).
“When I arrived we started promoting tourism here in 2014. Before 2000, practically nobody was traveling to Prague only a handful of people wanting to see the Sto Nino de Praha,” Olsa told the Manila Bulletin at the launching of the Travel Madness Tourism Expo at the SMX Convention in Pasay City on Thursday.
There are about 20,000 to 25,000 Filipino tourists visiting the Czech Republic every year and the number continues to increase on a year-to-year basis according to the Czech envoy, citing reports from travel agents and airlines plying the regional routes going to Prague.
Ambassador Olsa explained that joining tourism events such as Travel Madness is aimed to establish the presence of Prague and the Czech Republic into the psyche of the people traveling to Europe.
According to Olsa, the increase in the number of Filipino tourists visiting the Czech Republic actually started in the last decade and attributable to the rise and improvement in the Philippines economy even before the regional financial crisis in 2009.
He said the crisis halted the influx of Filipino tourist a bit but came back in big numbers from 2010 to 2011.
Vendula Unden, managing director of Eastern Europe Tours, pointed out that going to Prague is not costly and much more economical for Filipinos as compared to traveling to Western European countries.
“When people come, they feel comfortable and happy and enjoy. Compared to Western Europe, Eastern Europe is cheaper, people can enjoy more their holidays,” Unden said, adding that the distance from Manila to that central European country is shorter compared to most of the countries in Western Europe.
Unden said joining a tourism confab in the Philippines is an opportunity to promote the beauty of the Czech Republic in the country due to the big potentials in the market where more and more Filipinos are traveling nowadays.