The price of hockey: How much? What the Puck!
Hockey fans and locals alike face massive price increases in Bratislava Old Town as hockey mania takes a grip of profiteering bar and restaurant owners. Many have hiked up their prices, charging up to three times as much and sometimes even more than their country and suburban cousins.
One bar in question that normally charges €2.20 for 0.5l of Zlaty Bazant have upped the price to €3.45. For comparison, the same brew can be had in Senica for €0.90, while a similar beer (Staropramen) can be had in the Bratislava borough of Lamac for €1.20. Incidentally, the cost price of 0.50L of the Bazant is slightly less than €0.60. And the minimum wage is €317.00 per month!.
Not only have beer and alcohol prices increased, but so too have daily menus, with some restaurants not even serving them for the duration of the championships. No doubt this will reflect not only on the mindset of locals regarding the Old Town’s hostelleries, but also that of tourists visiting Bratislava and Slovakia in general.
When challenged about the price increase, one bar manager of a popular sports bar in Bratislava’s Old Town said that they did not know we were regulars and that we should have told them in advance, because regulars had ‘special discounts’. This seemed strange as the person paying the bill, our beloved Editor-in-chief, even had a “loyalty card” and his face was known by the barmaids. Especially as he had presented the card as the bill was requested.
The hiked up bill arrived all the same, thereby making the manager’s claim pretty much redundant. The bill of EUR 30 for 9 beers was duly cancelled altogether by the red-faced bar manager. Another acquaintance and long-term resident of Bratislava had the same problem and even wrote about his grievance on the bar’s Facebook group, only to see it being promptly deleted.
While its true and almost natural that many cities hike up prices during such events, increases in excess of 1/3 are excessive indeed. In a city where bills are notoriously inaccurate in general and the amounts served are often short, this screams ‘Rip Off!’
Bratislava mayor Milan Ftáčnik issued a stern warning to the city’s taxi drivers in regard to “ripping off” hockey fans and tourists during the championships, but maybe the same slap on the wrists should have been given to Bratislava’s bar and restaurant owners.
Maybe some fans were aware of this reputation and so steered clear of Bratislava, opting instead either to travel from neighbouring countries or to lodge in Vienna. A recent study has shown that many hockey fans were avoiding prolonging their stay in the city, which is an obvious blow for Slovakia’s tourism industry.
A recent study has shown that the hospitality sector will not benefit greatly from the Ice Hockey World Championships being hosted in Bratislava and Kosice. A survey carried out by the agency Ipsos indicated that the majority of fans won’t stay for more than one day in each city. According to the survey, fans will arrive on the day of the match and depart afterwards. A massive 85 % of fans will travel using their own vehicles, with trains and buses in second and third place, respectively.
However, many fans who plan to stay in town seem to be opting for the lower end hotels with 45% opting for two star options and 27% being content with even one star. It seems that many foreign fans are showing a preference for Vienna, possibly also because of the greater choice of free-time options.
The survey highlights the poor efforts of the respective cities in promoting non-hockey related tourism and leisure, thus making hockey the sole attraction. A vast 75% of fans plan only to stay for the day of the game and a mere 7% will stay for 4-5 days, whilst 17% will visit for up to three days. Most Slovak supporters visiting the cities will accommodate themselves with friends and family.
So all that remains to say is “Welcome to Bratislava, have a nice day, why don’t you stay?”