November 5, 2014
The second annual Tourism Forum of the Czech Tourism Agency, held from 30–31 October 2014 in the Clarion Congress Hotel in Olomouc, introduced new trends in tourism and many interesting guests. The director general of the Czech Tourism destination agency, Rostislav Vondruška, outlined not just upcoming projects to attract tourism to the Czech Republic, but also touched on the current topic of the declining number of Russian tourists and outlined a "backup plan" for how to attract visitors from other regions.
He mentioned the launch of the agency's activities in China and reinstating the agency's representation in Vienna as top priorities. Given the planned launch of the website – the National Information Tourism Portal, Vondruška added: "We have to get closer to the group we target." How to engage young people and use new, interesting ways to bring them to the Czech Republic was a pervading topic of the first day of the event. Among the foreign guest speakers was Chad Shiver from TripAdvisor.com. He pointed out the importance of customer reviews. "90 new reviews are added every minute to TripAdvisor," he revealed, emphasizing how important it is for hotels to respond to the reviews appropriately. "If you respond to a review, you don't just respond to that person but to everyone who is researching whether to book your hotel or not," Shiver said. Robin Hanák, the managing director of the Clarion Congress Hotel Olomouc which hosted the two-day event, confirms the statement. "Our experience says reviews play a huge role when people choose a hotel," Hanák said. "Guests look for detailed information about the quality of the accommodation, cleanliness, the breakfast, and they also evaluate staff attitude and attentiveness. The information from travel sites provides valuable feedback for us and we respond to the reviews in 24 hours." Another participant in the event, Radek Stojan, the manager of the tourism and PR department of the Oloumouc Region, pointed to the trend of connecting tourism with regional gastronomy. Dozens of local restaurants have gotten involved in the Taste Haná and Taste the Jeseníky Mountains projects. "We want to restore traditional regional gastronomy and support economic growth in specific regions," Stojan said. Projects, currently supported with a CZK 100,000 contribution every year are designed to introduce specialties based on traditional recipes that use local ingredients, like Olomoucké tvarůžky (ripened soft cheese), characteristic for the Olomouc region. The first day of the event concluded with a ceremony to award the winners of the DestinaCZe 2014 Competition in the newly restored Archbishop Palace in Olomouc. With 22,215 votes, the Unfinished Gothic Church of the Virgin Mary in Panenský Týnec in the Genius Loci category became the overall winner. The City of Olomouc was also awarded as it became the Trendy Destination of 2014.