Michaela has extensive experience in the travel industry and she has been working for CzechTourism North America for over 10 years. She is responsible for trade relations development, marketing, and overall promotion of the Czech Republic in the United States and Canada.
Her experience goes beyond CzechTourism, she is an active member of the National Tours Association, USTOA, European Travel Commission and SKAL. She has also served on the board of American Tourism Society (ATS). She holds a Masters degree in Spanish and Portuguese literature and linguistics.
TRO: Tell us about your role with promoting CzechTourism.
MPC: I am the Director of the CzechTourism Office in New York City. I am responsible for the overall marketing of the Czech Republic as a tourism destination in the USA.
TRO: What aspects of culture in the Czech Republic do you think make the country such a popular destination for travelers from all over the world?
MC: The Czech Republic combines what’s best about Europe – its culture, architecture, and history, which are felt at every step – with a dynamism, energy and élan that are unique to this part of the continent. It is also very safe and American-friendly, with English widely spoken especially in Prague. Our country has the greatest number of castles per square mile of ANY country in the world, 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (also very unique for a country this size), famous spas, newly upgraded golf courses, great festivals and cultural events, tasty food, an endless variety of beer and also award winning wines. The country’s location in Central Europe also makes it an ideal starting point to explore the whole region.
TRO: What are the most important things for travelers to know about the Czech Republic and what are the must-sees if possible?
MC: Adding to all the points mentioned above, Czech Republic is part or the EU but we are not using the EURO yet which makes it more affordable, it is a great value for the money destination. Prague itself is a veritable textbook of architectural styles and one of Europe’s most beautiful cities; it also has a very lively cultural scene, especially when it comes to music (three opera houses, a half-dozen orchestras in Prague alone), and is becoming more and more of a dining and clubbing destination as well.
We have 12 other UNESCO-listed sites, among them the historical centers of Kutná Hora, Česky Krumlov, Telc, the castle of Litomysl, the modernist Villa Tugendhat by Mies van der Rohe in Brno, and others. The Czech Republic has many castles and chateaux open to the public; many of these house valuable art collections, lavish interiors, and splendid glass, china, and armor collections. Major cultural institutions include the National Gallery in Prague (it has several different venues featuring art from different periods), the Jewish Museum (one of the best collections in the world), the National Theater, the Prague State Opera, the Czech Philharmonic, the Museum of Applied Arts with wonderful design collections, and many others.
We also have great hiking and biking, especially the region of South Moravia (south east of Prague, bordering with Austria) known for its wine production.
TRO: Is there a particular type of food travelers must try if possible?
MC: Czech cuisine has both influenced and been influenced by the cuisine of surrounding countries.
The website http://www.czechspecials.com/ offers a comprehensive overview of Czech gastronomy, with authentic recipes and meals form different regions. The traditional dish would be pork roast with Sauerkraut and dumplings or Beef sirloin with dumplings and vegetable cream sauce. Czechs also have very tasty desserts and pastry. As for drinks, beer is a must. Another typical drink would be Becherovka – an herb liquor made in Karlovy Vary.
TRO: What are the most important things travel professionals should communicate to their clients when selling the Czech Republic as a destination?
MC: The location in Central Europe, the great value, and the rich history and culture.
TRO: How has tourism to the Czech Republic changed since the Velvet Revolution?
MC: Tourism has been booming – Prague makes it periodically among the TOP 10 most visited cities in Europe. Prague has close to 80,000 hotel beds and almost forty 5-star hotels. Visitors nowadays don’t stay only in Prague but also explore different parts of the country, such as the region of South Bohemia with the beautiful town of Česky Krumlov, western Bohemia with several spa towns, and the city of Pilsner Beer – Plzen. Or Moravia – the eastern part of the Czech Republic with a hidden jewel: the city of Olomouc, often called the miniature Prague or South Moravia, with its vineyards and festivals.
TRO: Are there any cultural faux pas to avoid when traveling to the Czech Republic?
MC: Well, we still hear our country referred to as “Czechoslovakia” quite often – that country split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in 1993. We are very friendly with Slovakia though!
TRO: What are the most popular or frequently traveled cities?
MC: Prague, UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Česky Krumlov, Kutná Hora, Litomysl, Telc, Brno and its modernist Villa Tugendhat. Also, the Spa Towns of Karlovy Vary and Marianske Lazne, Olomouc.
TRO: What are the best ways to navigate the country? Car? Train?
MC: Train is a great option, it literally connects even the smallest villages. Traveling by train is comfortable, economical, and reliable. Driving is also easy, it offers more flexibility.
TRO: Do you have any advice for travel professionals when selling the Czech Republic as a destination to their clients?
MC: Visit our website www.czechtourism.com, become a destination specialist on central Europe at Travel Agent Academy and if you need help or advice do not hesitate to contact our office – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com!