Final Word from Friday, November 26, 2004

Between 2,000 and 4,000 travel agents will converge on Prague in March 2006 for the ASTA tourist-industry congress. If they like what they see, they'll rush home and start selling Prague to their travel clients as a great place to visit or to host a conference. If they get ripped off by a taxi driver or moneychanger, they'll recommend some other hot destination, and Prague will lose millions in tourism revenue. Politicians and central bankers have 16 months to clean things up. The taxi problem involves everyone from the national government (which appoints the management of the ČSL Airport Authority) to Prague city hall, but no one dares take on the taxi mafias. The Prague mayor is inevitably the focal point, but Pavel Bém of ODS doesn't want to make waves that might throw cold water on his goal to be the premier one day. After all, foreign tourists don't have a vote. American Society of Travel Agents

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