ECONOMY: Plastic payment gains popularity
Czech payment card holders are becoming more accustomed to using them. According to data from the Association for Banking Cards, in 2002 the number of cashless payments (by means of cards) rose by more than 60%, to 42.5 million, and estimates for this year exceed 60 million. The people who most frequently use this method are holders of VISA (22%) and EC/MC (19%) cards, closely followed by VISA Electron and Maestro. Further growth can be expected in connection with the greater use of credit cards, which are not yet very widespread in the Czech Republic. Though still widely used, ATM cash withdrawals are subject to banking fees, while purchases made with cards directly in stores are not charged any fees. Therefore, card holders tend to use them even for very small purchases.

Česká správa letišť

TRANSPORT: Prague opens its skies to the world
Prague is preparing to strengthen its role as a significant central European transport hub. Ruzyně international airport, which in the first six months of this year recorded a year-on-year increase of more than 6% in the number of travelers, is undergoing extensive reconstruction. By 2005 its yearly capacity will be expanded from the current 6.5 million to 10 million travelers. This July construction began on a building that will be linked to the new Terminal North 2, with one underground and three above ground floors and a new clearance wing. The EUropa project represents an investment of CZK 10 billion, to be financed by a CZK 9 billion loan from the European Investment Bank. “We chose the name EUropa for the project, as it describes precisely what it’s all about,” says Martin Kačur, general director of the Czech Airport Authority and the Prague airport. “We’re building a terminal that will offer first-rate European standards for travelers heading from Prague to EU member countries.”

EMPLOYMENT TRENDS: Czechs not inclined to international commutes
The traditional reluctance of Czechs to relocate for employment is confirmed by the latest project carried out by the Center for Public Opinion Research at the Academy of Science Institute of Sociology. When asked, “Have you ever worked abroad?” only 4.4% of the respondents answered yes. Czechs most frequently go abroad for work in Germany (39%), followed by Austria and the US (14%). Only 6% of Czech citizens are considering working abroad in the future, nearly half of whom are students aged 15 to 19. One third of those who are considering working abroad are taking specific steps towards realizing their plans. Comparing results of this year’s research with those of 2001, it follows that even though EU accession is approaching, Czech citizens’ interest in relocating is following a slight downward trend.

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