Prague: Alcohol-Fueled Tourism Strains Residents’ Lives
Residents’ lives in Czechia’s capital Prague are increasingly strained under a rising tide of visitors that increasingly disturb the peace with so called pub crawls. In 2000, 2.62 million tourists visited Prague. This number has skyrocketed to just under 8 million in 2018. The tourists are attracted by Prague’s stunning baroque and gothic architecture – and easily available cheap beer.
The Guardian writes that this trend is transforming Prague and risks pushing out long-term inhabitants of the city center, turning it into a tourist-only zone.
Jan Štern, the city’s first “nightlife mayor” is trying to persuade bar owners not to cooperate with pub crawls and to enforce policies prohibiting outdoor noise that would make conditions more tolerable for city center residents.
It’s important that we don’t give up the historic city centre, which is our most valuable legacy, and not let it become a dead zone that’s just a background for nightlife and a cheap type of tourism,” said Štern, as per The Guardian.
Prague residents are losing their quality of life amidst the alcohol-fueled tourism. The city center is not a place for living anymore, and only serves as goldmine for a few alcohol businesses.
Too many people are coming just for a very small number of purposes, and buildings, and those who want to make profits from the presence of the tourists worsen the situation,” said Pavel Čižinský, mayor of Prague 1, as per The Guardian.
Especially the commercial pub crawls and other alcohol-related “tours” are affecting the city’s previously tranquil character most dramatically and driving an increasing number of long-term residents out.
For example, so called beer bikes have become notorious. These are bike tours of up to a dozen people at a time where they consume unlimited quantities of Czech beer to loud music. But a council attempt to outlaw them is currently being contested by a local microbrewery on the grounds that it is “discriminatory”.
Prague authorities have grown alarmed by the developments and are concerned about the city’s growing reputation as a destination for cheap booze and easy fun. And they are starting to take action. For example, Pavel Čižinský, mayor of Prague 1, has vowed to transform the city’s approach by cracking down on pub crawls and limiting alcohol serving times.
Other measures are that pub-crawl and alcohol-based walking-tour companies will come under greater scrutiny for infractions, such as failing to offer customers receipts – as required by Czech law – or to check if they are over 18. Bars cooperating with pub crawls will face increased inspection on health and safety matters, like whether they are exceeding capacity.