LN: Tourist Police May Solve Foreigners’ Ripoffs

I’m happy that local politicians are finally starting to get the message that ripping off foreign tourists is bad for business, both in the short and long term. But it’s sad that it has to come nearly fourteen years after the revolution, when thousands of tourists have already sworn never to return. My fear is that the golden goose has been plucked, roasted, served and discarded.

The other fear is a bit more cynical: that the Tourist Police would apply their scrutiny unevenly, promoting the interests of well-connected tourist companies against their less-connected competitors.

From today’s Lidove noviny, and translated by me:

Tourists in the Czech Republic are most afraid of dishonest taxi drivers, tour guides or money changers. According to some businessmen, this could be solved by a Tourist Police, which would control activities in these professions. A special phone line would also be created to help tourists.

Controls over the activities of businessmen in the tourism industry are beginning to get stricter. Aside from new oversight over travel agencies and guides, which are supposed to come under the aegis of the Ministry for Local Development next year, there are other proposals on how to protect foreign visitors. For example, police who would check tour guides, money changers or taxi drivers, to make sure they don’t gouge tourists.

These are some of the possible paths to the protection of foreigners, which are being discussed by the professional associations of the domestic travel business, which operates the Czech Center for Tourism. “Implementation of some form of tourist police is being discussed. The current request to the city police is that in places frequented by tourists speak foreign languages,” said Hana Čermáková, press secretary for the Czech Center for Tourism, adding that foreigners frequently cannot communicate with our bureaucrats. The first step in helping foreign visitors in problem situations should be the creation of a tourist help line.

City police should have jurisdiction
“The activities of waiters, money changers or taxi drivers in everyday situations very strongly affects the image of the Czech Republic in the eyes of tourists,” she added. The Czech Republic’s image is damaged, thanks to some businessmen, especially due to double prices for taxis. …

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