From Central and Eastern Europe: “The Czech R...
From Central and Eastern Europe

“The Czech Republic does not even border Ukraine”

Photo: Prague Convention Bureau
Roman Muška is Managing Director at the Prague Convention Bureau
Roman Muška is Managing Director at the Prague Convention Bureau

Roman Muška, Managing Director at the Prague Convention Bureau, about international guests coming back, the sovereignty of the Czech Republic, the Prague Congress Centre back to daily routine and enough hotel rooms for large events.

tw tagungswirtschaft: How are you?

Roman Muška: With the spring bringing the nice weather and the international tourists to the town I am starting to be more optimistic about this season, despite the current global political situation. We can see increased demand also in the MICE segment again, so I hope this year will bring much better results than the previous two years. I personally am very much looking forward to meeting all friends, colleagues, and clients in person again at various trade shows and events planned for this year.

Due to the war in Ukraine, the government of the Czech Republic declared a State of Emergency starting on March 4, 2022. Does the state of emergency still apply? If yes, what does it mean for business travelers?
Originally, the state of emergency was declared for 30 days, but it has been later extended until the end of May this year. However, this status has been implemented only to simplify the decision-making process and implementation of some of the governmental measures related to the first waves of refugees coming to the Czech Republic and seeking safe place. As such, the state of emergency, which is still valid, represents no effect to the local inhabitants, leisure, or business travelers.

The Czech Republic has been a member of NATO since 1999 and a member of the European Union since 2004. Do you feel safe and what do you tell event planners who are concerned about safety in the Czech Republic?
It is totally understandable, that the war in Ukraine, an unprecedented act since the World War II, is a cause for concern especially for the overseas planners who perceive Europe as one compact area. Nevertheless, the Czech Republic is a sovereign country, that does not even border Ukraine. The situation here is stable with no imminent risk posed. The country is opened for travelers as well as for events with no limitations currently applied. Of course, similarly to the rest of the world, we are observing the situation very carefully and we hope for a peaceful solution to come soon. In the meantime, the Czech Republic is trying its best to support Ukraine and its inhabitants.
„The Czech Republic is a sovereign country, that does not even border Ukraine. The situation here is stable with no imminent risk posed.“
Roman Muška, Managing Director at the Prague Convention Bureau

Did you have cancellations for conferences and events so far?
We are aware of just few events (especially coming from the US) that have been postponed immediately after the war in Ukraine has broken out. Some of the corporate events have been also postponed not exactly due to the safety concerns, but because their organizers didn’t feel it appropriate to plan a social event in the times when the world is dealing with such a situation.

Close to 300,000 refugees have arrived in your country above all in Prague and Brno. Is Prague still able to accommodate large event?
We are confident to say, Prague and other cities managed the waves of new arrivals very well. Most of the refugees found asylum with their relatives here, others found an accommodation quickly enough as well with the help of governmental bodies and other institutions. There are still some hotels offering their capacities to refugees for a short-term stay, but Prague, with a capacity of almost 45,000 hotel rooms, doesn’t face any issues with accommodating even the largest events now.

Is the Prague Congress Centre still a refugee centre? If so, can events still be held?
No. The Assistance Centre has been relocated to another building on 14 April. The Assistance Centre was established at the Prague Congress Centre (PCC) as a temporary solution as the PCC had suitable capacity and what is more, its team is well-experienced to convert the property for various set-ups, for example vaccination center during the pandemic. In the meantime, Prague prepared another property to accommodate the Assistance Centre. Even with the Assistance Centre based in PCC, the Prague Congress Centre was able to provide their usual service to event organizers. There have been events running concurrently with the operation of the Assistance Centre with no big issues. The PCC is disposed to accommodating more events running at the same time, offering separate entrances, rooms, and halls.

How can the events industry support your city and country?
We perceive the meetings industry as a source generating not only economic impact, but also as a tool to share knowledge and thus support positive development of the destination. The sooner the events are back, the better for the whole local community. I believe this applies not only to the Czech Republic and Prague, but to any destination, that welcomes international congresses and conferences.

In crises, transparent communication is key. Where can event professionals get updated and verified information about the situation in Prague?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have prepared a focused website, where all the important information can be found. Of course, we are sharing all the key information on our social media, blog or in our newsletters. In case any of our clients show concerns on the local situation, we have a short Q&A document ready to share the basic summary of the situation.

You are a member of the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) and belongs to the Central European Chapter (CEC). How important are ICCA and the CEC chapter these days for your city and country?
We are a long-term ICCA member who actively participated in many of their events. Moreover, we had the opportunity to be the host of the 56th ICCA Congress in 2017 in Prague. The past two years were difficult for everyone involved in the meeting industry, and although ICCA tried their best to accommodate the needs of their members, I believe that many of us were missing one significant part of the ICCA membership and this is the face-to-face networking and knowledge sharing withing the community, both meeting professionals and association clients. I will just repeat what has been said many times, face-to-face is in this case unreplaceable. So, I am very much looking forward to the upcoming in-person ICCA events, especially the congress in Kraków.

Will you be exhibiting at the tradeshow IMEX in Frankfurt from 31 May to 2 June 2022?     
Yes, my team and I will participate at IMEX Frankfurt. We will be at the Czech stand G300 in hall 8 and we are much looking forward to meeting our colleagues and friends there after such a long break! Kerstin Wuensch
The Prague Convention Bureau
The Prague Convention Bureau is the official convention bureau of the city of Prague. The mission of the non-profit organization is to strengthen the awareness of the city of Prague as a convention and incentive destination. The team of the Prague Convention Bureau and its members offer a one-stop-shop service for conferences, meetings, seminars, exhibitions or incentive events in Prague.