The tiny Czech Republic is hoping to see a flood of Chinese tourists this year after the Asian country releases the romance film “Somewhere Only We Know” next month.
Filmed in Prague’s cobblestone Old Town and medieval district below the castle, the film tells the story of a young Chinese girl who arrives to retrace her grandmother’s steps through a 1940s romance. The movie, directed by actress Xu Jinglei, will be released in mainland China on Valentine’s Day.
A greater influx of Chinese tourism would add to an almost tenfold increase since 2005, according to data from the Czech Statistics Office. Chinese tourists are among the biggest spenders per capita in Prague, and can help make up for declining numbers of visitors from Russia, who have fallen in number due to the ruble crisis.
“The movie has the potential to appeal to millions of Chinese viewers and we expect a huge impact on travelers’ numbers,” Jiri Duzar, a senior project manager at the Czech Tourism state agency, said by phone yesterday. “My guess is that it will bring tens of thousands of Chinese to visit the city.”
About 7.3 million tourists visited the country of 10.5 million last year. The Czechs, who overthrew their communist regime in the bloodless 1989 Velvet Revolution, are now part of the European Union and NATO.
The number of tourists from China rose 22 percent to 163,589 in the first three quarters of 2014 from a year ago, according to the Czech Statistics Office. The number of Russians visiting the Czech Republic dropped 9.3 percent to 545,486.
“There’s nothing new in trying to promote a country with a movie,” Duzar said. “The movie tourism worked for New Zealanders with Lord of the Rings and it will work for us.”
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