The numbers for July haven’t been counted yet, but businesses in Prague are reporting a solid tourist season so far. Despite the pandemic, visitors flock to the city’s pubs, hotels, towers, and bike rental shops. The contrast with other regions is stark. The city invested in a campaign to attract domestic and international tourists, with Prague City Tourism highlighting Petřín Tower and the Mirror Maze, among other attractions.
Queues formed early in the weekend, with people waiting to climb the 60-meter-high Eiffel Tower replica. Although adult admission costs 220 crowns and an elevator ride adds another 150 crowns, more people are visiting this year than last. However, the number of tourists hasn’t yet reached pre-pandemic levels, according to Roman, an employee at the tourist information center.
Valerie, a maze guide, said the number of visitors to the maze has also increased significantly. The queue for the maze sometimes extends to St. Lawrence’s Church. She didn’t expect this year to surpass the record nine million tourists who visited in 2019. She mentioned that five million tourists have visited Prague so far this year.
The cable car on Petřín Hill was also trendy, with long queues forming at Újezd on Saturday morning and persisting throughout the day. The crowds gathered every hour before the Old Town Astronomical Clock to watch the apostles’ procession.
Despite the pandemic, businesses renting out bikes have not suffered, with three rental shops adjacent to Žofín doing well. Bike rental costs 300 crowns per hour, and the owner of one rental shop mentioned that the business hasn’t slowed down since the pandemic began. He said that young people, exceptionally high school students, saved the company during the pandemic since they saw it as an outdoor sport.
The city is bustling with various languages during the day, but with nightfall, English and German begin to dominate. Pub crawls and young people wandering from bar to bar are popular activities at night. However, party-goers can be loud, and many city center residents would prefer to avoid the noise.
The city government has been struggling to combat alcohol tourism, but its efforts have been unsuccessful. Adam Zábranský, a Prague city councilor, recently outlined a strict policy against pubs that don’t cooperate with the city after a July inspection. “We joked that we wouldn’t allow these establishments to have outdoor gardens. They need to ensure that their clients don’t disturb the peace at night,” Zábranský said. Restaurant gardens usually have to close at 10 pm unless they have special permission. “The police and the trade department can then enforce fines,” Zábranský added.
The situation in Prague is different from other regions, as Czech Radio reported that tourism in the Šumava and Broumov regions fell significantly below expectations. Both the Šumava National Park rangers and Broumov accommodation providers registered lower numbers of visitors than last year, with a reported drop of around 30%.