The Latvian Investment and Development Agency will have to work in order to convince both state institutions and entrepreneurs to promote Latvia as a “creative powerhouse”. Its director, Kaspars Rožkalns, thinks that the hardest thing will be to get Latvians to believe it, because Latvia already has a lot of success stories.
There are many great things in Latvia, but often the world does not know about them, because the country does not have a single, strong image. Therefore, foreign investors have no clear motivation to invest directly, LIAA director, Kaspars Rožkalns said.
LIAA was entrusted with the government's action plan last year: achieving a unified and positive image of Latvia as a place for exporting companies. More than a hundred different sectoral experts have developed a central theme – Latvia as a creative powerhouse – which is successful in dealing with difficult situations and is able to bridge between different cultures and mentalities.
There have been many attempts to shape Latvia's image in the eyes of foreigners. For example, at the beginning of the millennium, the slogan “Latvia – the Land which Sings” was chosen to promote tourism; ten years later, it was replaced by “Latvia – best enjoyed slowly”. Later, the Investment and Development Agency came up with "Magnetic Latvia".
However, Latvia has not had a unified long-term image strategy, which would be agreed by different state institutions, businessmen, cultural workers, scientists and other industries.
Over a half-year period, this has been discussed in five creative workshops, bringing together 116 experts – entrepreneurs, academics, officials, journalists, cultural professionals. They discussed Latvia's image in the context of exports, science and innovation, foreign policy, tourism and culture.
Three cornerstones were chosen:
- Latvia as a country able to cope quickly with difficult situations;
- Latvia as a strong bridge, connecting different cultures, mentalities and technologies;
- Latvia as a country that can offer an environment in which to create, experiment and generate new products.
“If we believe in ourselves, we will not shy away from standing next to Estonians in any exhibition and saying that we are a powerhouse of creativity,” Rožkalns said.
Rožkalns said that such a unified image of the country is not just a matter of prestige. Depending on the country's position in various indexes, it will depend whether international advisers recommend that companies consider it as a place to relocate or expand their business.
It is planned to organize a number of international campaigns every year. The Ministry of Economics estimates that the national budget will need around €1.3 million per year to implement the single national image.
The information report on the development of a single national image will be discussed by the Government on 29 September.