CzechTourism: Direct line from Prague to Beijing will boost inbound tourism

by   CIJ News iDesk III
2024-06-25   07:02
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The first Hainan Airlines plane of the renewed direct flight from Prague to Beijing departed from Prague yesterday. The route is expected to significantly boost inbound tourism from China, similar to last year's introduction of a route from Prague to Seoul, South Korea. According to the state agency CzechTourism, according to the contacted ticket sellers, the planes are fuller in the direction from China, while the interest in the opposite direction is expected to increase in the autumn by up to ten percent. The direct service resumed today after a four-year hiatus caused by the covid-19 disease pandemic.

"Flights from China are always more heavily filled by the Asian side than the European side, used mainly by Chinese travellers to Europe returning after the pandemic, but also by diplomats and business travellers," Katarína Šuchterová, a spokeswoman for ticket seller Pelikán, told the Czech News Agency. Josef Trejbal, director of the Letuška.cz portal, expects a 10 percent increase in interest in the opposite direction. "For trips to China, we expect interest mainly from corporate clients, and this will become apparent in the autumn," he said.

"While more than 1.7 million tourists from Asia arrived in the Czech Republic in 2019, last year it was 776,000," said Jiří Pos, chairman of the board of Prague Airport. According to CzechTourism director František Reismüller, the new route will not only boost inbound tourism in the Czech Republic, but also in Europe. "Tourists from distant destinations, including China, are continuing on and travelling around Europe. From the Czech Republic, they go to Austria, Germany, France and Italy, for example. It is logical, if they are already taking a long flight, they want to experience more destinations at once," he said.

According to CzechTourism data, the Czech Republic was visited by around 21,500 tourists from China in the first quarter of this year, compared to almost 90,000 in the whole of last year. In the pre-Christmas year 2019, it was 610,000 Chinese tourists. Last year, they spent an average of three days in the Czech Republic and spent CZK 2,126 per person per day in the country. Most stayed in mass accommodation. Most often they visit cultural monuments, go hiking, experience traditional Czech cuisine and shop. They mostly visit Prague, South Bohemia and South Moravia. However, they are also starting to visit lesser-known Czech destinations.

According to data from Letuška.cz, about half of passengers currently choose a direct flight to China. "However, direct flights are always more attractive than connecting flights and the increase in interest will be noticeable in the future," Trejbal added. The airports in Vienna and Budapest managed to renew their connections with China earlier, Prague airport is only catching up in the offer of Chinese routes, according to the company.

The new direct connection to China is increasing Czech interest in other Asian destinations, according to ticket sellers. "Interest in Japan is up 95 per cent this month, top exotics, Thailand's Bangkok is up 70 per cent this month, off peak season, and Vietnam is up 40 per cent," Ms Šuchterová said. For flights from Prague to Thailand's Bangkok, Hainan Airlines accounts for 60 per cent of ticket sales to the destination this month due to its low price, it is the top seller on the route, Šuchterová added.

Established in January 1993, Hainan Airlines is one of China's fastest growing airlines. It operates more than 40 international and regional routes. The Prague-Beijing and Beijing-Prague routes will be operated three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Flights to Beijing will depart from Prague's Václav Havel Airport at 14:00 and return to the Czech Republic from Beijing Capital International Airport at 02:30 local time.

Source: Hainan Airlines and CTK

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