Humanitarian relief and business events aren’t mutually exclusive. That’s the message that the Prague Convention Bureau would like to get out as the Prague Congress Centre does its part to accommodate refugees from the war in Ukraine.
The Czech Republic, which is about 350 miles from Ukraine at its nearest point, has welcomed about 200,000 Ukrainians fleeing the fighting, most of whom are finding shelter in the country’s two largest cities, Prague and Brno. (To date, there is a total of about 3 million displaced people as a result of the Russian invasion, according to the United Nations, and almost two-thirds are now in Poland.)
In reaction to the refugee crisis, Prague has established an assistance facility at the Prague Congress Centre. However, convention operations have not stopped. The World Environmental Education Congress is meeting in the facility March 14-17 concurrent with relief efforts but in different parts of the building.
“We believe that we are able to meet not only the humanitarian but also our business needs. One way to support us and the rest of the Czech Republic, as well as Europe, is to go through with planned events,” said Lenka Žlebková, CEO of the Prague Congress Centre, in a statement. “We are very grateful to the organizers of the World Environmental Education Congress, who saw this as an opportunity, and they are right now in the PCC running their congress while the refugee centre is in full operation.”
Unfortunately, notes Žlebková, other groups have pulled out. “Our building has a great disposition for holding various events at the same time and our team is experienced in using our best features for difficult situations,” she said. “It is very unfortunate that other two international congresses preferred to move into online space, even though they were also offered another venue in Prague.”
The Czech Republic did declare a state of emergency in early March. However, it was a technical move to handle the influx of refugees and doesn’t impact Czech citizens or leisure and business travelers, according to the Prague Convention Bureau.