The visa dispute between Canada and the Czech Republic has a sequel in the North American country itself. Local Czech embassies are being flooded with hundreds of people applying for Czech visas. The rumour emerged probably based on the news that that the European Union is preparing retaliation. But the media say: Our reporting was correct. Because the Czech Republic has only introduced visas for Canadian diplomats.
“The phone rings every minute. I have dealt with about 80 calls today,” said a worker at the Czech consulate in Montreal, who did not wish to be named. “All of them say that they’ve heard about the Czech visas on the radio or in the local press. What I think is that they are simply not listening properly. And then everyone travelling to the Czech Republic is frightened,” she added.
Toronto is experiencing an onrush of visa-seeking tourists as well. “I have seen dozens of people coming to the consulate. The officers are sending them back home. And they complain that people also keep calling there,” Michal Šnajdr, arranging his permanent stay necessities at the Toronto consulate these days, commented on the unbelievable chaos at the representative offices.
Besides visa applicants, the representative offices have registered dozens of phone calls from people who had bought air tickets and package tours and want reassurance that they do not need a visa.
We keep on explaining
Czech officers also have to deal with inquiries from local travel agencies. “Some tourist office probably supported the rumour too by allegedly informing travel agencies that everyone already needs a visa to travel to the Czech Republic,” said Šnajdr.
It is not clear what is behind the rumour. “We did not see anything like that on television. But people are turning to us by telephone and by email with the same requests. We tell them that it is probably caused by a release of incorrect information,” Petra Klobušiaková of the Czech embassy in Ottawa told the online daily Týden.cz.
The situation is similar in the French-speaking province of Québec. According to a web archive, the Canadian channel Global TV reported that “diplomats need visas and it could be worse.” But people read the information their way.
Global TV news director Jeff Bollenbach told the online daily Týden.cz that the television only broadcast that it is possible that visa would be introduced in future for Canadians travelling to the Czech Republic, but did not say anything else.
Canada reimposed a visa duty for Czech citizens due to a huge increase in the number of asylum seekers. Owing to European Union rules, the Czech Republic cannot resort to the same move, so it replied by introducing visas for diplomats. The European Commission wants to decide in September on whether the EU introduces visas for Canadians. Czechs have to travel to Vienna to get a Canadian visa, and Canada has already announced that it was not going to issue visas in Prague.