Over the last few years, Prague has been implementing a strategy to support sustainable tourism. Credit: Enjoy Respect Prague.

Prague Continues Efforts To Mitigate The Negative Effects of Tourism, Focusing on Animal Protection

In recent years, the capital city has been attempting to change its image from a party destination to a premium metropolis offering quality services. In connection with this goal, the city has already completed 40 projects to reflect the cultivation of public space and reduce the negative effects of tourism in the historic centre, with others underway. 

One example is the Enjoy Respect Prague campaign, which aims to inform tourists about the rules and culture of behaviour in a tasteful way. The campaign is now complemented by outdoor posters asking tourists not to take pictures with animals that are abused for illegal business, whose operators earn decent money from the practice.

Over the last few years, Prague has been implementing a strategy to support sustainable tourism. The key aim of this strategy is meeting the needs of the city’s residents and mitigating the negative effects of tourism, especially in the exposed historical centre. The city is now also focusing on the protection and rights of animals, and the new informative posters from the Enjoy Respect Prague campaign, on display from Tuesday in the Old Town, are designed to assist in this. 

“By expanding the Enjoy Respect Prague campaign, we want to prevent tourists from taking pictures with animals, especially those protected by international conventions on the protection of endangered species, which include snakes, barn owls, and parrots, which we see the most in the historic centre,” said Prague’s Deputy Mayor for Culture, Tourism and Animal Protection, Jiří Pospíšil. 

“This stressful treatment of animals for a would-be original photo is an illegal business. We hope that, thanks to this campaign, the tourist demand for these perverted photos will disappear.” At the same time, he added, many of those fined for illegal use of wild animals are foreign nationals, and leave the country before paying.

Enjoy Respect Prague is a long-term public campaign by Prague City Tourism, which uses outdoor areas in the historic centre or at Václav Havel Airport to educate incoming tourists about local rules.

“The campaign, following the initiative of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), supports sustainable tourism and mitigates the negative effects of tourism in the city,” said František Cipro, chairman of the board of Prague City Tourism. “In the campaign, we introduced 10 recommendations on how to behave in Prague with respect to local rules. These include, for example, the observance of night noise rules, and the use of marked parking for shared scooters and bicycles.” 

According to experts, exhibiting animals in this way, often even for several hours in hot or cold weather, is extremely stressful for them. Frequent transfers and handovers stress the animal even more, which can lead to physical injury, refusal of food and, in the most extreme cases, even death.

According to the Animal Protection and Cruelty Act, anyone can make a complaint to the environmental department of the relevant city district, which is obliged to deal with it. Help is also provided by the Czech Environmental Inspectorate. 

“As we have workers who can classify the animals and determine their legality, or if they are correctly marked, we have already cooperated with the Prague City Police in solving such incidents in the past. In some cases, we took the animals away and placed them in facilities where they are well taken care of,” said Jan Klapuš, Director of the Nature, Forest and CITES Department of the Czech Environmental Inspectorate.

A total of 8.044 million tourists visited Prague in the record pre-pandemic year of 2019. At that time, Prague was reaching its limits in terms of visitors, and suffering from overtourism. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of tourists decreased to 2.1 million (2020) and 2.3 million (2021). In 2022, tourism had already started to recover, with 5.9 million visitors to the city, about 75% of the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

In the first quarter of 2023, the number of tourists increased to almost 89% of the same period in 2019. It is expected that for the whole of 2023, the number of tourists will be roughly at 85% compared to 2019.

Due to the pandemic and the systematic support of domestic tourism through the brand #vprazejakodoma and other Prague City Tourism campaigns in Prague, the number of domestic tourists has increased significantly. While in 2019, Czech visitors to Prague made up only 15% of the total (1.240 million), due to the restrictions, in 2020 a full third and in 2021 even up to 40% of visitors were from the Czech Republic. In 2022, Czechs accounted for one quarter of all tourists in Prague. In general, the capital is mostly visited by people from Germany, the USA, Great Britain, Poland and the southern states of Europe.

Prague Continues Efforts To Mitigate The Negative Effects of Tourism, Focusing on Animal Protection
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