Feb 25, 2024

Forget the Off-Season, Tourists Flock in Prague Year-Round

Prague hoteliers are celebrating record guest numbers during the traditionally slow winter months. Occupancy rates reaching 90% paint a clear picture: Prague is shedding its seasonal skin, attracting tourists year-round.

This positive development is echoed in a press release by Czech Inn Hotels, citing data from consulting firm STR for January. The report reveals a surge in winter tourism, effectively erasing the city’s usual seasonality.

January sales soared by nearly 24% year-on-year, placing the Czech Republic fourth in Europe behind Turkey, Malta, and Russia (Germany ranked fifth).

“Thankfully, the trend in occupancy and costs is optimistic,” says Jaroslav Svoboda, owner of Czech Inn Hotels. “However, let’s not get carried away; we’re still far from 2019 pre-pandemic levels.”

This “happy surprise,” as Svoboda calls it, has disrupted the traditional off-season. January typically sees a significant drop in occupancy, but this year, the decrease compared to other months was much smaller. In fact, Prague hotels saw a 10% year-on-year increase in occupancy.

“We were expecting extensive renovations during the off-season,” Svoboda admits, “but instead, we’re seeing 90% occupancy at some hotels. It creates logistical challenges, but ultimately, it’s a welcome surprise.”

The Czech Statistical Office (CSO) also confirms the trend. In the fourth quarter of 2023, 4.7 million guests visited the Czech Republic, an 8.5% year-on-year increase. Over 22 million guests stayed in Czech hotels last year.

“While the summer season was positive,” says Roman Mikula, head of the Tourism and Environment Statistics Department at CSO, “the fourth quarter didn’t quite surpass 2019 levels. The total number of arrivals and overnight stays fell short. However, there’s a bright side: domestic tourism flourished, with residents making up almost half of all guests, compared to less than a third pre-pandemic.”

The composition of guests has also shifted. Germans, Slovaks, and Poles are now the most frequent foreign visitors. “Austrians are a rare sight,” explains Svoboda, “due to the lack of a direct motorway connection, making the journey time-consuming by train.”

“We miss guests from further afield, particularly Asians and Americans. Hopefully, this will change in the coming years.”

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