Andrea Pfeffer Ferklová has been the mayor of Karlovy Vary since 2018, and she is proud of the fact that it, alongside ten other European spa towns, has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
From what I can tell, getting on the List was not an easy task...
Not only was it not easy, it was also a very long journey. The whole process took roughly eleven years. Seeing as it was a joint project of seven countries and eleven cities, coordinating each step in order to prepare the high--quality documentation needed for the nomination was very challenging. We had to harmonize our strategy on how to convince the World Heritage Committee of the uniqueness of the Great Spa Towns of Europe and their distinct value. Dozens, even hundreds of people were involved in the whole process. The mayors and other representatives of the applicant towns kept changing throughout the years, but thankfully all of them were supportive of this idea and managed to bring it to a successful conclusion.
What will being on the UNESCO list bring to Karlovy Vary?
Getting listed and having the UNESCO mark is a unique opportunity for us. We have to approach it in the right way and make good use of it, however. It will open new ways for us to get our city seen. Karlovy Vary will get more attention all around the world, photos will appear in international calendars, travel agencies will definitely put an emphasis on the UNESCO mark when offering trips to Europe and the Czech Republic. What I personally consider to be of key importance, is that the advantages we gain from being nominated bring benefit to the townspeople and local businesses. Besides the necessary care and protection of all of our values and estates that got us on the UNESCO list, we will have to invest a lot of effort and finances into transportation and other kinds of infrastructure, especially parking lots.
You have been the Mayor since 2018, meaning you have been hit with the Covid pandemic during your term. Have you managed to solve some important issues in these difficult times?
From pre-Covid times, I would like to point out the introduction of free public transportation for all seniors and students. We also modernized the public transportation rolling stock and prepared a new concept for our traditional Christmas markets. As for Covid times, I am most proud of both instances of the Karlovy Vary Cultural Summer, where we managed to fill the city with cultural and social festivities and bring entertainment to both locals and visitors. The Vary°Vouchers were also very successful and had a positive impact, they are a special kind of voucher for a stay in the city. I am very pleased with the recent launch of the so-called respite care as part of our City Social Welfare Facilities, which is the only one in our region. The Senior Garden was very well received too, it is the first community garden in our town. The pandemic has shown how much each of us needs to meet their friends and loved ones as well as to have an active way to spend our free time. Gardening is the favorite pastime for seniors, that is why we offered this activity to them first. To counteract the impact of the pandemic, we prepared relief packages for local businesses, especially those involved in hospitality and tourism. Despite a major loss of income, we have managed to get a loan to start work on the reconstruction of colonnades, bridges, roads, and our main public transportation transfer node. We are also working on buying out a lodging house that has been giving us trouble.
Spas and bathhouses have been closed down for some time. Has this brought about a change in the current clientele?
Thankfully, this has shown that Karlovy Vary still has a good name and is a desired tourist destination. Even before the pandemic, we started repeatedly seeing Czech clients, and now Czech people make up the majority of visitors. We benefit not only from the attractiveness of the city and its surroundings but also from the current trend where Czech people are starting to enjoy wellness treatments. Foreigners also keep coming back, especially those from neighboring countries, especially Germany. This is due to the current travel options in terms of Europe and the rest of the world, but also the fact that German tourists and spa patients have historically enjoyed Karlovy Vary.
Your husband says that you are stubborn, ambitious, principled, and a born leader. If that is true, do these qualities help you in your work as Mayor?
Going into becoming Mayor, I had a clear vision that I want to change Karlovy Vary. I want to move our city to the next level, not just for us citizens but in terms of tourism as well. Tourism is very important to our town, and that is not about to change any time soon. I am pleased that certain things are coming along well, but it is a bit too slow for me personally. I am used to things being faster and more flexible in the business world. The way things are decided is also a change for me. I like to be on top of things, to be the one who sets the vision, makes decisions, and accepts responsibility. I have to see the fruits of my labor to feel a sense of meaning.
How was this summer for you? Did you have time to relax?
We did some golf tourism around Czechia and wine tourism around Italy, but other than that my summer has been filled with work. July was spent nervously awaiting the results of our nomination for the World Heritage List of UNESCO as part of the Great Spas of Europe. August meant the International Film Festival. We also had the Karlovy Vary Cultural Summer, and September brought many events that were worth a visit as well. In terms of relaxing, I like to go on walks in the forest with my husband and dog or do sports.
Andrea Pfeffer Ferklová, M.Sc., MBA, (born January 1, 1975, in Chodov) is a politician, businesswoman, and the Mayor of Karlovy Vary since 2018.
She graduated from the University of Economics and later the Prague International Business School.
She worked as the manager for the Grandhotel Pupp from 2001 to 2003. Three years later, she became the CEO, and she held this position until 2018.
Pfeffer Ferklová entered the communal elections as independent on the ANO 2011 ticket and was elected Mayor of Karlovy Vary. She has also been a representative of the Karlovy Vary region since October 2020.
She speaks German, English, Russian, and intermediate Spanish. She is married, childless. Her hobbies include golf, tennis, spinning, music, travelling, and reading.
The Film Festival
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is one of the oldest film festivals in the world and is still the most prestigious one in Central and Eastern Europe. “This year saw many fans coming too. People were excited and pleasant, the organization was well managed under the leadership of Jiří Bartoška, Festival President, actor, and producer. Every star that comes to our town thanks to the festival is special. I have had the opportunity to get to know Johnny Depp and Ethan Hawke, they were both amazing. They are true gentlemen of good character, being in their presence is a pleasure,” said the Mayor.