Interesting survey

Discussion in 'Culture' started by Jana, Jul 17, 2005.

  1. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    Reinventing the typical Czech
    Gov't hopes to change image held by tourists

    By Peter Kononczuk
    Staff Writer, The Prague Post
    July 14, 2005

    Czechs are a nation of simple, melancholic villagers. They seem to have no ambition or initiative. They live in a rural backwater. And do they even have mobile phones?

    A government-sponsored survey of how foreigners see the Czech Republic — which only four in 10 Frenchmen can place on a map — found that the national image leaves much to be desired. For a country in hot competition with neighbors such as Poland and Hungary to attract tourists and foreign investment, that comes as bad news.

    The Foreign Affairs Ministry, however, says it will take action. By the end of the year, it wants a new marketing image that presents the Czech Republic as modern, developed and sophisticated.

    The strategy represents the first of its kind, according to Pavla Škachová, deputy director of the foreign promotion department at the Foreign Affairs Ministry. "After 1989, our governments were solving the big problems, such as restructuring industry," Škachová said. "This 'soft' issue was kind of put aside, or underestimated maybe."

    Škachová said that until now, the Czech Republic has appeared as a land of folk songs and beer, of crystal, castles and historic monuments. "These have to do with our tradition and history, but there is a lack of [an image of] contemporary, modern things, of the progress in the last 15 years," Škachová added.

    As part of its efforts to change the country's image, the Foreign Affairs Ministry ordered a survey of attitudes toward Czechs in Britain, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, the United States, Canada and Japan.


    Foreigners see Czechs as:
    - Simple, conservative villagers
    - Lacking initiative and ambition
    - Honest, hospitable but melancholic
    - Toil-worn farmers with lined faces

    Source: Survey by the GfK agency for the Foreign Affairs Ministry

    The poll questioned middle- and upper-middle-class people who travel abroad on business at least once a year. Its conclusions were presented at the end of 2003 but only hit press headlines this July.

    The survey found that apart from Prague, respondents viewed this country as untouched by civilization and populated by toil-worn farmers with weather-beaten faces.

    Škachová said the survey asked people if they might come to the Czech Republic on vacation. "The respondents said, 'Well not especially. Is it possible to pay with credit cards over there? Are there mobile phone operators?'"

    Miloslav Knepr from the Mark BBDO advertising agency, which helped the government analyze the poll results, said he became puzzled at first as to why many foreigners viewed Czechs as producers of clocks and sunflower oil. "Then we realized this must be because of the pretty images they see of Czech landscapes," he said. "Blues skies, green hills and yellow fields with sunflowers."

    Knepr said that when some foreigners see pictures of the famed astronomical clock in Prague's Old Town Square, they think it must be a typical Czech product. That conclusion made some tourists laugh. Standing under the clock, Mirek, a 45-year-old tourist from Poland who did not want his second name published, said, "Americans, for instance, may not know history and could think something like that."

    As to his opinion about Czechs, he said, "They are less open than Poles, who are warm and hospitable."

    His wife Lila, 43, with whom he spent three days in Prague, said she had noticed that Czechs don't smile much.

    Park Suk Won, 20, a biology student from South Korea, thought some Czechs he had encountered were cold and distant. "When you ask something, they don't answer, and go away," said the student, who came to Prague after taking in France, England, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. "They don't speak English very well. When I toured other countries, nobody moves away like that."

    "When you ask something, they don´t answer, and go away."
    Park Suk Won, South Korean biology student

    Keen to boost the country's image, the Foreign Affairs Ministry plans a new logo and promotional materials and a complete redesign of the ministry's Internet guide to the country (, Škachová said. The government also wants to increase cooperation among ministries and agencies such as CzechTourism and CzechInvest, the group responsible for promoting the country to foreign investors.

    "The goal of the exercise is to make sure that one agency does not do something that would really be in direct contradiction with what another agency tries to achieve," said René Samek, director of the London office of CzechInvest.

    He said one exhibition of Czech culture in London some time ago featured posters of an old woman from a village wearing a headscarf and sitting on a Jawa motorcycle from the 1960s.

    Projecting that image "was good for the cultural exhibition. I think it would be OK for CzechTourism, for example, but not something CzechInvest would want," Samek said.
  2. evian

    evian Well-Known Member

    What an amazing read, thanks for sharing Jana. I'd have to say though, my interpretation of Czechs and the Czech Republic largely contradicts the results of those surveys.
    I'd have to personally disagree with that, my experience with the Czech locals sought a completly opposite opinion as to that, whether in Prague or out of Prague.
  3. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    The fact I posted the article here does not mean I agree with it (at least not completely); anyway, my opinion here is invalid, as I am a native Czech. I just thought it might be interesting and inspiring and I am hoping to read some comments by the members of myczechrepublic website.
  4. SMZ

    SMZ Well-Known Member

    Fascinating to read this ... I suspect that most of us on this site aren't exactly objective about the CR! :D

    Even if the reality isn't as bad as the article makes out, there's certainly no harm in improving the image. Except that then even MORE tourists will be cramming into Prague during the high season ... hmmmm. Maybe this ISN"T such a great idea, after all. :?

  5. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    the Czech Republic — which only four in 10 Frenchmen can place on a map
    Hmmm ... I guess Americans aren't the only ones having difficulty with geography!

    I agree with Susan's analysis. While bringing in more tourists/investors will definitely help the Czech economy, it will make it much less enjoyable a place for the tourist who enjoys quiet walks. I guess there's always the off-seasons ...
  6. metamorph

    metamorph Member

    As far as the United Kingdom is concerned the problem is more basic than even the article sugests. When I talk to people here about going to live in the Czech Republic, most reply " so what is it about Czechoslovakia ........." And to most people here the country is synonymous with Prague.
  7. Martina

    Martina Active Member

    Ha ha, yes, and it's funny after 15 years they still call our country Czechoslovakia!! :lol:

    It's Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. Two separate countries. Although I wouldn't mind to be Czechoslovakia again, since half of my family are Slovakians!!
  8. Steven B

    Steven B New Member

    I have to say that most Americans have no idea where CR or Slovakia, (Is that correct?) is, let alone have any opinion about who and what they are. I traveled a lot as a child, my father was in the US Air Force and we lived mostly overseas, and my only perception of "Czechoslovakia" back then, I am 45 years old, was of a communist country that manufactured a lot of weapons for the Soviets, and heavy industry.
    After the collapse of the Soviet Union my opinion changed dramatically. The only peacefull partion of a former Soviet client state really impressed me. Contrasted with Yugoslavia, BH and Croatia. I thought of them at that time as a peacefull, hard working people, happy to be free of Communist oppression.
    I must admit that neither country entered my thoughts after '91 until I met a pair of Lifeguards from CR this summer.
    They were the best ambassadors for your country! Intelligent, trustworthy, friendly, open minded, generous with what little they had (they are both economics students in Prague), and very willing to see and do new things in my country.
    So, My new and very strong opinion of Czech people is very, very positive. My image of them has changed completely. Czechoslovakia was allied with of the most hated enemy of my country when I was a teenager, and today I consider them friends that have more in common then I could have imagined just a few months ago.
    And, I have an invitation to visit them in Prague!
    Excuse me,
    I must now post this and make a reservation with Alitalia!

    Steven B
  9. Ladis

    Ladis Well-Known Member

    BTW I heard that Czechoslovakia was the 3rd biggest exporter of weapons in the world that time :) (mostly into North Korea, Iraq and non-democratic African republics). However I haven't verified this info.
  10. evian

    evian Well-Known Member

    Yes, I find this really quite perplexing. Honestly, over 90% of people I talk to are ignorant of the fact that it is the Czech and Slovak Republics not Czechoslovakia, let alone not knowing where they are located. Furthermore, many think there is no correlation between Prague and Czech Rep. :?
    I saw something recently that really exacerbates this misconception. It was on that American game-show comedy, Oblivious (if you are unfamiliar with this show, it is a game-show that involves the subjection of random persons to crazy situations with the host asking them various questions for which they can win money, completely oblivious to the fact they are on a game-show).
    Anyway, one of the situations entailed the host pretending to be a foreign mail-order husband, who asked passers-by to correct his spelling (i.e. the questions) on a billboard that had a compassionate message for his "wife-to-be".
    When the subjected persons asked him where he [the host] came from, he replied, "I am from Oblivia, a province of the former Czech Republic." :roll:
    It turns out that everyone was, well 'oblivious' to this crazy remark, even the host!

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