Brno - Not only in terms of beer consumption but also beer tourism, the Czech Republic is becoming a superpower.
It is estimated that 380,000 will have visited Czech breweries by the end of this year, which is an 8.5 percent increase compared to 2007. This would make beer tourism the fastest-growing industry in the tourism market.
Visitors are attracted not only to large and established breweries, but to small regional producers as well.
This year more than 180,000 tourists from all over the world visited the brewery of Plzeňský Prazdroj in western Bohemian town of Plzeň.
Plzeňský Prazdroj offers its visitors to see the brewhouse, watch a film on the production of world-famous Pilsner Urquell beer, learn about modern brewing technologies and visit cellars where they can try filtered and non-pasteurized beer directly from barrels made of oak wood.
Plzeňský Prazdroj also prides itself with a Hall of Fame which displays the brewery's most important exhibits. And what more, the whole tour is accessible for the disabled, as spokesman of Plzeňský Prazdroj Jiří Mareček said for Aktuálně.cz.
About half of the visitors to Plzeňský Prazdroj are Czechs, the rest are foreign nationals such as Germans, Americans and Chinese.
Beer excursions are organized also by Budvar, Královský pivovar Krušovice and Velké Popovice.
It is apparent that this type of tourism is not dominated by large breweries only. "Smaller household-type breweries are offering excursions too," said Jarobír Beránek from Mag Consulting company that analyses travel industry.
For example, Staročeský pivovárek in Dobruška that produces the Rampušák beer offers excursions with beer tasting. "Although we have introduced this program this year only, there are many people interested, so we still have some visitors," said Milan Vedra from the company' s board of directors.
Czech beer producers were inspired by their Bavarian colleagues who first came with the idea of beer excursions. "The excursions are appropriate and an effective advertisement," Beránek said.
In addition to excursions, Czech breweries organized more than 200 culture, sport or social events in the summer, visited by approximately 500,000 largely native visitors.
Diskuse: Neverending story: Beer tourism on the rise in ČR