Czech tourism industry gradually bounces back

Plus: Politicians walk out on "hate-fueled" speech, Greenpeace questions need for oil embargo, and online predator from acclaimed Czech doc sentenced. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 11.05.2022 08:58:00 (updated on 11.05.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

13:07 Tourists gradually return to Czechia

The first three months of the year brought a gradual return of tourists, with a more visible increase occurring only during Easter. More than 2.8 million tourists stayed in hotels, boarding houses, and campgrounds in the Czech Republic in the first quarter of this year suggests data published by the Czech Statistical Office (CSO). This is ten times more than in the same period last year, which was significantly impacted by Covid and anti-epidemic measures.

According to CSO, 757,682 visitors arrived in Prague during the first quarter of the year, which corresponds to 50 percent of the same period in 2019. Visitors to the metropolis reached predicted numbers despite the ongoing pandemic and the war in Ukraine, said Prague City Tourism. Most tourists came from the Czech Republic (35 percent), followed by visitors from Germany and Slovakia.

13:00 Koruna weakens in reaction to new CNB governor

President Miloš Zeman has appointed Aleš Michl as the new Governor of the Central Bank, who has long been an opponent of rising interest rates in an effort to curb rising inflation. The koruna reacted to the news with a sharp weakening as it exceeded the level of CZK 25.23 to the euro, thus losing more than one percent in an immediate reaction to the appointment.

12:50 Senate passes bill defining crime of joining foreign armed groups

Joining non-governmental armed groups abroad will be classified as a separate crime punishable with up to five years in prison, according to the government-sponsored amendment to the Criminal Code that the Senate approved today without any changes.

The Criminal Code already includes the crime of serving in foreign armed groups. However, it concerns Czech nationals only, and it does not apply to the activities within non-governmental groups, such as rebel groups. To fulfill the state of facts of this crime, the terrorist character of the group must be proven.

politics Ministers leave Chamber during Okamura’s speech

Opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) leader Tomio Okamura's speech on the impact of the Ukrainian refugee wave outraged Czech cabinet ministers, all of whom left after an hour, ending Tuesday's parliamentary debate. Okamura said the quality of education for Czechs would suffer due to Ukrainian children attending Czech schools and that there wouldn't be enough spots for young learners. He said Czech citizens could revolt against the state due to its mismanagement of the situation. Okamura also challenged the humanitarian benefits for refugees.

The manifestations of xenophobia and hatred against people who flee to our country from war were so huge that we had to react adequately to it," said Interior Minister Vít Rakušan of the walkout. He accused Okamura obstruction and stirring up hatred.

Ukraine Greenpeace calls Czech exemption from Russian oil ban unnecessary

Greenpeace is criticizing Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary for seeking an exemption to the Russian oil import embargo proposed by the European Commission last week. The environmental organization called the exemption unnecessary for Czechia, which it says can draw oil from other sources. In a press release, Greenpeace called for the Czech cabinet to reconsider the exemption. Miriam Macurová, coordinator of Greenpeace's campaign on energy sources argued that Czechia has the logistics, technologies, and capacities to cut off the Russian oil imports immediately. Last year, Russia exported 3.4 million tonnes of oil to Czechia.

Protesters gathered on Malostranské náměstí on Tuesday calling on politicians to move away from fossil fuels. "Today, Fosilosaurus was spotted on Malostranské Square. He should have become extinct, but he is still thriving at the expense of the people."

CRIME Infamous predator featured in acclaimed Czech doc sentenced

On Tuesday, an Ústí nad Labem court sentenced a Slovak man for arranging to meet and have sexual intercourse with someone he believed to be a 12-year-old girl. Ivan Hazucha received two years in prison and six-year expulsion from Czechia. In November 2020, Hazucha used Facebook to contact a woman, who was passing herself off as a 12-year-old girl, asking her to share her naked photos, sending her pictures of his genitals, and planning to meet her, the prosecution said.

The young woman reported these exchanges to the police. Last year, Hazucha was among several men punished for contacting and planning meetings with individuals they thought to be underage girls who were in fact actors in a 2020 documentary film "Caught in the Net," directed by Vít Klusák and Barbora Chalupová, about online predators.

culture Annual Prague book fair to welcome Nobel Prize winner

The book fair and literary festival Book World Prague will welcome the Belarusian Nobel Prize winner for literature Sviatlana Alexiyevich and one of the most important representatives of Russian opposition intellectuals Lyudmila Ulicka. The fair and festival will take place in Prague from June 9 to 12. Both authors live in exile in Berlin.

Also due to attend: human rights activist Nathan Law from Hong Kong, award-winning Swiss novelist Lukas Bärfuss, Israeli author Etgar Keret, Canadian writer Shari Lapena, and British author Naomi Wood. The 27th year will honor Italy as well as focus on Ukrainian works for adults and children.

weather Tuesday was the warmest day of the year so far

Tuesday is so far the warmest day of the year, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute which says temperatures exceeded the limit of the summer day, 25°C. The CHMI also warns that hot, dry, and sunny days in the Czech Republic bring with them the risk of fires. A fire warning currently applies throughout Wednesday and Thursday to Prague and the Ústí nad Labem Region, most of the Central Bohemian Region, and also the western parts of the Liberec, Hradec Králové, and Pardubice regions. Meteorologists say the strongest gusts will occur on Thursday.

Prague emankment. Photo by Ouael Ben Salah on Unsplash
Prague emankment. Photo by Ouael Ben Salah on Unsplash

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