How can a region´s industrial past and present become an asset and even a competitive advantage? This question took centre stage at the 2018 Industry Open Conference in Pilsen which attracted more than 75 participants, mostly representatives of various industrial sites in the Czech Republic. Many of them were ERIH members, including guests from three ERIH Anchor Points. The conference took place at the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, an iconic industrial heritage site with a tour programme ranking among the best awarded visitor tours in Europe.
Apart from speakers presenting best practice sites and industrial tourism events in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Czech Republic, a workshop session explored ways and means for pushing forward the development of industrial tourism in Pilsen. A guided tour of the brewery and a party concluded the first part of the programme, followed by next day excursions to other important industrial heritage sites in Pilsen like DEPO2015 and Techmania Science Center as well as less familiar locations such as the Centrum Caolinum in Nevřen in the vicinity of an underground kaolin mine, around13 km from Pilsen.
The Industry Open Conference 2018 was meant to be a first step into a larger development of industrial tourism in Pilsen by establishing partnerships and emphasising benefits of activities related to industrial tourism for local companies and entrepreneurs. Pilsen is well placed for this focus on industrial heritage due to its transformation from one of the most significant industrial hubs in Central Europe into a tourist destination that is most popular for its industrial monuments.
Moreover the conference aimed to lay the foundation for the establishment of an industrial trail including sites in Pilsen and its surroundings in order to leverage the region’s considerable industrial structure to attract more visitors. A further long-term view envisages the implementation of a regular festival of instrial heritage with the ambition to become one of the key events of the city of Pilsen.