Katerina Setunska of CzechTourism explains why the current situation gives us an opportunity to learn and then rebuild after the lockdown
From the cobbled streets of Prague Old Town to the dense forests of Šumava National Park, the spas of Karlovy Vary and, of course, the world’s best beer, the Czech Republic offers wonders in abundance. With its beguiling capital just a two-hour flight from the UK, it makes perfect sense as a first post-lockdown destination for Britons to visit.
We spoke to Katerina Setunska, trade manager at CzechTourism UK & Ireland, about how the tourist board is working with travel agents during these troubling times – and what Czech attractions she’s most looking forward to returning to.
How are you reassuring the trade during this time?
The most important thing for us is the safety of the tourists and visitors coming back to the Czech Republic – that is above all. When the time is right we will be more than happy to welcome everyone again. To lighten the atmosphere we have teamed up with Czech partners and focused on a promotion aimed at armchair travellers to experience “a taste of the Czech Republic” from the comfort of their own homes amid the current quarantine. For that, we have launched a B2C campaign called Virtual Czech, with the hashtags #VirtualCzech and #CheersFromCzech. On May 7, we are also aiming to bring the biggest ever Mic Czech event the travel industry has ever experienced. See our Facebook page for more info at facebook.com/czechrepublic.
What was your favourite moment with the trade in 2019?
In 2019, we launched our second course on Online Travel Training (OTT) targeted at the LGBT segment, mainly promoting the three biggest cities – Prague, Brno and Ostrava – as destinations open to all while partnering with Prague Pride, one of the largest cultural events in Prague since 2011. We have also launched our first virtual fam trip, VFam, taking absolutely everyone who is interested on an exciting six-day journey through regions of the Czech Republic.
Non-digital favourite moments include a spa and golf fam trip taking place in the west of Bohemia and a Travel Trade Roadshow that introduced 12 Czech trade partners to the trade in London, Manchester and Dublin.
While they can’t visit, how can the trade find out more about the Czech Republic?
We’re focusing on digital marketing at the moment as the situation changes every minute. We’re polishing our e-learning tools and making sure they stay fresh, updated and informative for anyone who wants to keep up.
Webinars are another way of effectively communicating with the trade; today we’ve had one with AITO, introducing Czech regions and some of its hidden secrets, such as efficient public transport, local regional gastronomy, wine and beer trails and mountain biking (single-tracks), plus our marketing themes for 2021 and beyond. These include a continuation of the trend of sustainable tourism marketing, working with regional partners and promoting the local authentic experiences and the unique traditions of the destination.
How is the Czech tourism board preparing for the post-lockdown world?
We’re preparing for the new business environment to come as much as we can. That means we have to be ready to face new challenges and able to adapt quickly. We have to take into account the uncertainty and new safety precautions.
As much as the current situation is extremely devastating, it gives us a chance to learn and become stronger. Speaking of the situation in the Czech Republic, domestic tourism is now expected to pop up over the coming weeks. Working with our PR agency AM+A Marketing & Media Relations has also helped boost our brand message and online engagement. By utilising their creativity we’ve done some brilliant online marketing activities with third-party partners.
Which Czech attractions are you most looking forward to visiting?
Hiking in Šumava National Park, having a glass of local white wine in one of the South Moravian wine cellars or an evening stroll through the Old Town in Prague are some of my most favourite things to do in the Czech Republic.
Why should the Czech Republic be the first place Britons visit?
The main reasons are its great accessibility and position as a short-distance destination; its high-quality, low-cost services; its extremely efficient public transport systems and great accommodation; the wealth of regional attractions with options for both summer and winter; and, of course, we still have the best beer in the world.
© CzechTourism – Image Bank, Photo: UPVISION