The 1,000-year-old Jewish Quarter of Prague is one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. During normal times, throngs of tourists from all over the world visit the area to tour the historic shuls and one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe.
As the tourist industry slammed to an abrupt halt in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a problem was created. Much of the revenue from tickets to the Jewish sites had been used to tend to the needs of hundreds of elderly members of the Jewish community in Prague, many of them Holocaust survivors.
Pre-coronavirus pandemic, the Jewish Museum, comprised of several shuls and the Jewish cemetery, brought in hundreds of thousands of tourists and generated $8 million in revenue, Reuters reported.
Frantisek Banyai, chairman of the Jewish community told Reuters: “The loss of tourist revenue is substantial. You cannot shut these services, you have to keep providing them.”
Jewish Museum Director LeoPavlat added: “Even after the borders open, we need to take into account the economic downfall caused by the pandemic and it is likely that tourism will be paralyzed,”
Before the Holocaust, there were 39,000 Jews in Prague. Today there are only about 1,500 Jews, many of them elderly and in need of assistance.
The Czech Republic currently has 7,449 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and has suffered 223 fatalities.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)