Asian tourists to Prague hit records

South Korea edges out China for the most visitors, Japan is dropping

Tourists from South Korea and China are in first place among Asian visitors to Prague. In the first half of 2017, some 142,301 South Koreans and 122,903 Chinese visited the Golden City. This was a record for both countries. The figure for China does not count an additional 30,399 from Taiwan.

Figures have been up for most countries of Asia, except Japan, which peaked in 2005.

“An increasing number of direct flights from Asia is influencing inbound tourism,” Prague City Tourism spokeswoman Barbora Hrubá told daily Pražský deník, adding that there was no reason to expect the trend to change.

Prague City Tourism now has maps, guides and other information in Chinese, Korean and Japanese on its web portal for tourists. Targeted promotional campaigns also have taken place in South Korea and China.

Hrubá added that the influx of tourists was due in part to films and TV shows shot in Prague, which brought the locations to people's attention.

The 2015 Chinese romantic drama Somewhere Only We Know used Prague locations. It was a huge hit in China, but had only a handful of special screenings in Prague. The climax took place on the steps of the Rudolfinum, which explains the large number of tours of Chinese people converging on that location and taking photos.

The film has also helped to boost Prague as a setting for exotic wedding photos, and Chinese couples can be seen most mornings at Charles Bridge and other locations.

The Czech Film Commission sees bringing in foreign film shoots as a way to boost tourism. “I think [Asian filmmakers] are interested in exotic locations which Prague is. … In case of the Chinese film we had, it was meant to be shot in Paris but we convinced the producers that we had a good incentives system so it made a financial sense to film it here. We convinced them to come to Prague to see that the city can replace Paris. They came and eventually rewrote the script for Prague, and shot the film here,” Ludmila Claussová of the Czech Film Commission told Czech Radio shortly after Somewhere Only We Know was filmed.

At a special screening in Lucerna's Velký sál, director Xu Jinglei said she was pleased with the locations, technical support and the results from filming.

The South Korean TV series Lovers in Prague, a follow-up to Lovers in Paris, had 18 episodes and first aired in 2005. The plot involved a politician's daughter and a private detective. Tourism from South Korea has been rising ever since. The first series was credited with boosting Korean tourism to France.

Another South Korean Series, Are You Human Too?, just finished filming two episodes in Karlovy Vary. Hotel operators said are looking forward to the time when the episodes air, as they expect more Korean tourists as a result.

India also sent a record number of tourists, some 37,000 in the first half of 2017. The 2011 film Rockstar was shot in Prague. Other popular Bollywood films have had scenes shot in Prague as well.

Totals for 2016 show 236,499 people came from South Korea, while 226,105 came from China, 78,825 from Japan and 60,851 from India.

Direct flights from Beijing to Prague began in September 2015, from Shanghai to Prague as of June 2016, and from Chengdu to Prague as of August 2016. Direct flights from Xi’an to Prague will start Oct. 29, 2017.

Czech Airlines and Korean Air offer direct flights from Seoul/Inchon to Prague. There are currently no direct flights from Japan or India.

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