Saturday, 3 May 2008

Tourist Information

In a previous blog I recommended that visitors to Cesky Krumlov avoid the Unios Information Centre in the castle and go instead to the town information centre on the Town Square. As regular readers of this blog will be aware I am concerned about the visitor management and the development of sustainable tourism in this lovely town and I would be loathe to suggest that the Town Square Information Centre is doing a brilliant job, it isn't.

My much loved and much missed Aunt Zoe used to run the tourist information centre in the small Cotswold town where we all lived. She like all her team were volunteers, who gave freely of their time to share with visitors the joys of the place and location. They were committed to promoting the town and supporting the local economy. The small information centre was packed with rack upon rack of leaflets about where to stay, where to eat, what to visit and do. A tourist visiting the centre would walk out of it with the itinerary for their visit (be it for a weekend or a fortnight) filled. The team behind the desk were knowledgeable about the area and were generally able to answer any question, and if on the rare occasion they couldn't they would get on the phone and find the answer.

Contrast this minor British tourist information centre with the ones you find here in the Czech Republic. You are hard pressed to find more than a couple of leaflets of relevance in the Cesky Krumlov Town Information Centre and the staff are often unable to help. My aunt knew that the way to sell her local town was not just to promote what was there, but what was nearby, thus encouraging the visitor to stay in the town for several nights rather than the one and use the town as a base to explore the wider Cotswolds. This lesson appears not have been learnt in Cesky Krumlov. Where are the leaflets on the Sumava National Park, on Ceske Budejovice and other nearby towns? Surely this is the way to encourage longer stays in the town to show that it is a perfect base for a longer holiday. It is as if the staff are afraid that the visitor will be tempted to leave rather than stay longer. Aunt Zoe would have soon put them right.

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