The original article was featured in the November 2011 issue of Atelier Magazine.
As the Czech tourism director, Radka Neumannova markets an entire country to the rest of the world. With a background in cultural studies, she has worked on several national and international projects in her career. Here, she talks about her beautiful country, her favourite destinations, and international tourism.
Of all your professional roles, which has been the most challenging one?
I had the chance to work for the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel. It was definitely the most challenging position but the most rewarding too.
As a tourism director, you have traveled all across the globe. What's your favorite holiday destination?
The small island of Ischia, off the south-west coast of Italy near Naples, has to be my favourite destination. A volcanic, natural spa resort, it is a quiet, idyllic place, where colours and flavours blend to create a unique mix of sensations. The food is absolutely amazing too.
Which is your favorite spot in India?
I haven’t seen much of India, but the place that definitely charmed me is Sikkim. Locations such as Gangtok, Lachung and Darjeeling are laden with sensations of majestic mountains that truly impressed me. The mountains, culture and people are just fantastic and I hope I will be able to visit this region more often in future.
One thing you love about India?
India has a fascinating culture with so many local varieties and parallel contradictions. It is a large, complex country, with intelligent and strong people who have developed a millenarian culture in fields of arts, food, philosophy and spirituality. The one thing I admire about India is the strength of the people towards progress on all levels.
Can you draw a parallel between the cultures of both the countries?
It is not easy to draw similarities betweensuch different countries; thus any parallel would be inaccurate and unfair. The Czech Republic is a minor actor in Europe, only recently gaining a more important role, thanks to new investments, developing research and industry. On the other hand, India is a country that has influenced the world culturally for centuries. It also has the potential to show its best in the future.
Is there any new travel paradigm that you have noticed in the Indian and Czech tourism industry?
India is witnessing great developments in tourism. People are more informed about the destinations they would like to visit. Clients are more curious, and that is a challenge for tour operators and agents. New products are coming up like self-drives, winter holidays in Europe, honeymoons or cruises. In fact, Czech tourism is planning to launch new products focused on lifestyle like fashion, design, shopping or cuisine and wines to complement our beautiful heritage tracks and to show more modern and cosmopolitan face of Czech Republic.
How do you plan to further promote Czech Republic’s tourism in India?
We are planning more activities and media promotions. This trend is snow-balling into successful events that we have organised already this year, like, Czech Design and Fashion Show that was held in May in New Delhi and now we are planning on holding Czech Food Festival in Delhi. We would also like to include social media and online portals to attract younger generations.
So far, only Prague has attracted most Indian tourists. What are the other attractions that Czech has to offer?
We are definitely aiming, and I would say with success, to present other places and attractions in our country. Prague being the capital city and the most beautiful heritage area in the country attracts more visitors than other places. But Czech Republic has twelve UNESCO sites and more than 2,000 heritage places, cities and monuments. There are fabulous heritage places like Cesky Krumlov, Kutna Hora or Lednice-Valtice, where one can enjoy outdoor activities in lush green forests. One can taste a luxury of spa resorts in Karlovy Vary or Marianske Lazne. We can also offer beer and wine trails, since Czech Republic is one of the most renowned beer producers in the world with more than eighty brands and has the northernmost vineyards in Europe.
Are you strategizing on building your relationship with Bollywood too?
The Czech Republic and the Indian film industry have been dating since the beginning of the last century. We are working very closely with Indian filmmakers. The spirit of Prague can capture a romantic, lively and mysterious atmosphere, which is pretty predominant in the themes of Indian films. "Rockstar," releasing in November this year, has been shot in Prague and surroundings. We are already discussing other projects for 2012.
You have one of the most covetable jobs, for you get to travel to beautiful places. What do you consider a luxury?
Yes. Being a director of a tourism board, I keep traveling a lot; much of my time is consumed like this. So, for me, the real luxury is the time that I can spend with my family and friends. The best luxury experience I can imagine would be to spend a few days in some nice spa or beach resort, perhaps with people I miss and don’t get to be with too often.