HOSPITALITY: Making the star system less arbitrary
The opaque situation around the lodging facilities market, with each hotel classifying itself with any number of stars, will come to an end as of 1 January 2004, when principles for uniform classification of lodging facilities will be applied. The two largest professional unions in the field – The National Federation of Hotels and Restaurants (NFHR) and the Association of Entrepreneurs in the Hospitality and Travel Industries (HO.RE.KA) – have agreed on these principles with the support of the regional development ministry. Hotels and other lodging facilities will be divided into five classes and awarded stars according to the degree to which they meet stipulated requirements. The union will grant two-year certifications, and will be able to inspect the facilities on an ongoing basis. Adopting the rules is voluntary, but Daniel Gladiš, director of the Czech Travel Industry Center, says, “Starting on the first of the year we will give priority to promoting lodging facilities abroad that choose to be certified. In this way, tourists will know the level of services and facilities they can expect to find.”

TRADE: Self-confident exporters
Based on data from the 250 largest Czech exporters, research conducted by the express delivery company DHL and the GfK agency shows that these firms think the future looks good for Czech exports, and half of them rate current export conditions as good. 83% of the exporters consider personal contacts as the most important factor for presenting their firms abroad, and 75% favor presentations on the internet. Two of five exporters use CzechTrade’s services, and the second most used export promotion program is governmental support for trade fairs and exhibitions. “We help small and mid-sized firms find new contacts in EU countries, and we seek out Czech firms for foreign parties interested in purchasing Czech goods,” says Martin Tlapa, general director of CzechTrade. “In more remote areas, we help acquire information on trade conditions and build up our clients’ identities.”

AGRICULTURE: Indications of quality
Starting this September, domestic comestibles and agricultural products will be marked with a stylized linden leaf in the national colors and the designation KlasA. This designation will be awarded for three-year terms to products of firms headquartered in the Czech Republic. The seven conditions include ISO certification and a minimal stipulated share of domestic ingredients. In the EU, in addition to a uniform European system for marking high-quality comestibles, individual countries also have their own markings for their domestic agricultural products. As no such system or support exists in this country, the agriculture ministry intends to provide CZK 200-250 million each year for the project, within the context of the National Program for the Support of Domestic Comestibles.

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