The pandemic hit tourism in Prague and big cities the most, foreigners stopped driving. Your company Sivek Hotels decides to close several hotels in the center of Prague, such as the well-known Hotel Kampa, where you were rented. It was probably economically unsustainable. Don’t you want to wait for the return of foreigners?
I can honestly say that it was the worst period of my last 32 years in business. I had to release my loved ones, son-in-law, my son’s daughter. In 2019, there were 140 of us in the company, today there are 34 of us and other co-workers will have to leave.
At the end of September, we definitively closed the Kampa hotels – Stará zbrojnice, William and Harmony. Hotel Melantrich is now also closed, but we are still negotiating with the owner, the city, there is a chance. Now we have only the Selský dvůr hotel in operation, our own, this is a matter of the heart. We have a great team of people, people, some chefs moved from Kampa, for example. We are preparing a traditional goose feast in November, the Czechoslovak Goose March, last year we put it in people’s boxes.
Above all, how did we have to reduce the price of rooms in the Campaign, for example, which should be occupied, at least in part, by domestic clients?
Dramatically, up to 800 crowns a night, before the pandemic it was 2400 crowns. In a hotel like Kampa or William, we paid over 1.5 million rent per month, without sales it is not possible.
Do you have an overview from colleagues, competitors from the hotel business? How many do you estimate have not opened hotels in the metropolis? We need estimates talking about a fifth…
It’s my guess, but I’m sure it’s correct. Blinds currently have over 25 percent of hotels in Prague, and I assume that the number will rise to 45 percent during the winter. I currently know four times the hotels 200 meters from Wenceslas Square, which are open but do not provide breakfast. I can’t imagine that I would admit at any time.
Is it still bad with the return of foreigners?
There is some improvement, but it is still a hundredths of what used to be in 2019. Exceptions, well-known hotels like Hilton are doing well, with Americans filmmakers going for Netflix, but elsewhere empty.
When do you expect to return to the state before the covid? Will it be next season?
When the sky is full of planes, I personally see it for the year 2023. Vaccination can help, but there are also things that strike me. The safe Sputnik has not been allowed, while Hungary and Slovakia have this protection allowed.
What hopes do you place in the campaigns of the state agency CzechTourism? They wanted to attract tourists from Spain, France, Israel…
I know that I am working with a foreign campaign, I am trying very hard, but given the evolving covid map, I am afraid that they will not use those funds properly.
Would it be possible to survive the closures without state aid programs? When you choose only the key ones, what do you especially appreciate in return? What, on the other hand, didn’t work, for example?
Were it not for government subsidy programs such as Antivirus, Covid Housing, Covid Uncovered Costs, so many entrepreneurs including me have hung up the business sometime in January. What I would point out is that somewhere for some entrepreneurs it often took a long time to get the money.
We drew over 30 million crowns from the state. Our account for the pandemic was many times larger, but thanks to that we survived. However, many other times the covid bounced off, such as guides, a ticket agency or travel agencies that deal with incoming tourism.
From the point of view of the head of the Tourism Union, do you expect that this summer, like last year, will be a record number of domestic tourists? In what regions, on the other hand, do hoteliers praise the last season as successful?
It is true that some regions “clapped” in the summer, during the school holidays, and some in October. It was not exactly beautiful South Moravia, but for example Lipno, where I know a case where in a completely vacated Landal Marina service the guest had to pay 4000 crowns a day and made his own bed and wanted 500 crowns for a lunch for lunch. That is the fact I experienced.
I am also glad that the hotels in the mountains will finally have a good season in winter, although I assume that with regard to the development of covid, the possibilities for tourists outside the Poles to visit the Czech mountains will still be limited.
Czech restaurateurs also think that the necessary staff is missing. Does this also apply to hotels?
Here I see a big problem for the upcoming season at pink 2022. Many employees from the industry left during the crisis, they do not want to return. They see that the work in the hotel industry is demanding, it is the holidays, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, when they are without a family. We need the quality of services in the Czech Republic and it will suffer. When I fired, I tried to help my former employees find work. For example, someone went to work in one of the large supermarkets, 50,000 CZK. It is clear that they are not human. I couldn’t afford to pay them that much.