Although at least 100 out of 150 closed hotels and guesthouses opened last year after the pandemic, entrepreneurs in the sector must also now look at ways to save and, as the number of foreign tourists in Latvia shrinks, have to base their supply on the local market.
A third of the property owners surveyed acknowledged a drop in the number of tourists by at least 40% compared with last year, according to survey results this year by the Rural Tourism Association.
The president of the “Rural Traveller” association, Asnāte Ziemele, said: “There are very, very few foreign tourists, from very close markets, which are Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Germany, very different countries are mentioned there in very small numbers.”
Santa Graikste, a spokeswoman for the Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association, acknowledged that group tourism is lost, and business is based on individual tourists. On the other hand, Ilze Kikste-Vaivara, co-owner of the MaMa Hotel, said: “There are more local travellers today. In general, this year there were fewer foreign tourists due to the war in Ukraine."
Although there is a decrease in the number of foreign tourists, the organization of events in rural areas and guesthouses is more lively: camps, weddings, concerts, events, sports games, anniversaries. These events have kept rural tourism afloat, said Ziemele. But But the number of nights spent there has also decreased from an average of 2-4 nights to one night.
Businesses are still waiting for government support and are planning to save. “Yes, economize, if nobody lives in the room, we turn off the heating, the person comes, we turn it on. Last year we lit up the building beautifully in the evening hours, this year we don't,” said co-owner of the Hotel MaMa.
“We cannot say how many accommodations will be opened in November or December, because in view of this geopolitical situation and war, and what is happening, reservations come very shortly before,” said the Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association representative.
Meanwhile, the survey data from the “Rural Traveller” association show that, to stay open, 70% of the surveyed entrepreneurs plan to raise prices on average by 20%, while in catering – on average 30%.