February 22, 2010 / 11:18 AM / 9 years ago

New travel agency offers the bear necessities

PRAGUE (Reuters Life!) - A newly formed Czech travel agency is offering escorted trips for pampered toys.

Send them your favorite animal and they will whisk it around the sights of Prague, taking photographs of it against backgrounds like Prague Castle or the Charles Bridge.

The Toy Traveling agency was pitched to a panel of local businessmen for a TV reality show “Den D” by 22-year old decorator Marek Hlavka last week.

The concept was inspired by the 2001 film “Amelie from Montmartre” in which the heroine has pictures of her father’s garden gnome posed in front of various world landmarks sent to him to convince him to fulfil his dream of touring the world.

“As we start, we’re focusing on north American and Japanese markets, where there is a huge amount of people owning stuffed animals,” said Tomio Okamura, one of the businessmen who have decided to invest in the idea.

He and former Czech minister of information technology Dana Berova have agreed to invest an initial 150,000 crowns ($7,880) each in the project.

In the past week, the venture’s website sendyourdarling.com has logged over 15,000 visitors.

“We are very surprised with such a massive interest from clients both from here and from abroad — we really did not expect that,” Hlavka said in an email.

One recurrent request has come from Japan where several toy owners are anxious to have snaps taken at a Bayern Munich match.

Others have been asking for pictures of their stuffed animals enjoying a picnic or a massage.

The cost ranges from 90 euros ($121.5) to 150 euros.

“The most expensive package includes a massage, which takes place on a special rug laid out at a place with the view of the Charles Bridge. We light candles and incense sticks, lay down the plush toy on its back and Mr. Hlavka starts the massage,” Okamura said.

The dearest package also includes a cushion and a duvet to provide a comfortable journey for the stuffed client to Prague and then back to its owner.

Additional reporting by Robert Mueller; Editing by Steve Addison

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