Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Reflections over the Past and Present Research and Higher Education on Tourism in Czechoslovakia and Slovakia

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Reflections over the Past and Present Research and Higher Education on Tourism in Czechoslovakia and Slovakia

Article excerpt

Introduction

Czechoslovakia came into existence in 1918, and in 1993 was split into two independent countries: the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic. A small picturesque country, Slovakia is situated in central Europe. It has common frontiers with Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and Hungary. About 5.4 million inhabitants live on an area of 49.035 km2. The capital city is Bratislava. Slovakia became a member of the EU in 2004, together with other 10 new countries, including the Czech Republic, and in 2009 joined the Euro Zone.

In spite of the fact that Slovakia has not been able to effectively utilize its potential for tourism development up to now, there has been a long tradition in the tourism research and professional (vocational) and higher education in tourism on the territory of the former Czechoslovakia and independent Slovakia. The division of the country, as well as the transition process from a centrally planned economy to a democratic society and free market economy, has also influenced the research and education in the tourism and hotel and hospitality industry.

The aim of this article is to highlight the specialization of tourism research in Czechoslovakia and Slovakia after 1960 under the conditions of a centrally planned economy, and particularly after 1990, after the transition to a free-market economy. We rely on secondary sources of data, which were published mainly in scientific monographs, scientific papers, conference proceedings, in scientific journals such as the Economic Review of Tourism, Economy and Society and the Czech Hospitality and Tourism Papers, and on publications listed in references and further reading, but also on the empirical data and experience of authors, who have been, from the last century, involved in research and higher education in tourism in Slovakia.

Institutional basis for research in tourism in Czechoslovakia

During the years following World War II, when it was necessary to restore the war-damaged economy, significant attention was paid to the development of tourism in the centrally planned economy of Czechoslovakia. The most explored facet was trade union recreation, children's recreation and spa treatments. Conditions for individual tourism developed gradually from the mid-1950s as a part of the growth in the standard of living. In 1958, the government created the Coordination Council for Tourism, which aimed to coordinate the activities of sectors involved in tourism development. In 1959 the national scientific conference on tourism was held in Slovakia under the title 'The importance and role of tourism development in the development of national economy of Czechoslovakia', and was organized on the grounds of the Bratislava School of Economics. This conference underlined, among other issues, the need for university studies for tourism praxis, as well as the development of scientific research in tourism. The nationwide conference on tourism was held in 1960, and it dealt with the questions concerning development perspectives of accommodation facilities, hospitality services, transport and motoring, services of tour operators, spas and other services. Moreover, it accentuated the need for the deepening of the preparation of graduates for praxis in tourism and strengthening of research into tourism.

Following the conclusions of the United Nations Conference on International Travel and Tourism (Rome, 1963), a wide range of measures focusing on the development of tourism were adopted in Czechoslovakia. Between 1964 and 1965 a university study program of tourism was established. In addition, the origins of tourism research date back to 1964. In the same year the Governmental Committee for Tourism in Prague was established (in Slovakia, the Slovak National Committee for Tourism) and the Commissions for Tourism were established in the regions and districts as the coordination bodies of tourism development. In order to develop international tourism, numerous agreements on intergovernmental travel relations were concluded with the countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). …

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