New Wave out, new tourists in

Predictions that the departure of the well-known 'New Wave' Russian pop extravaganza from Jurmala this year will deal a severe blow to the economy seem like an exaggeration, the town's mayor said Friday.  

Speaking on LTV, Jurmala mayor Gatis Truksnis said that far from seeing empty hotels and long faces, he expected tourist numbers in 2015 to rise by a healthy 12%.

"Provided the summer is warm, I think everything should be fine," Truksnis said, predicting his town's streets and beaches might even be quite full from this weekend if the sun shines.

While admitting the increase in tourist numbers would likely be below previous years when they grew by up to 20%, such an increase is still the sort of growth most destinations would be pleased with.

The departure of New Wave, which was always a highly controversial festival since it was launched in 2002 and especially so in the current geopolitical climate has been lamented in some quarters and celebrated in others.

Truksnis described the loss of New Wave as "not a tragedy."

Following a wrangle in 2014 with the Latvian Foreign Ministry, which banned some pro-Kremlin participants from entering the country, New Wave has switched to the Russian resort of Sochi.

Though a major and popular event across the former Soviet Union, New Wave is virtually unknown in the West.

During his interview, Truksnis also defended a decision to raise entry fees to the resort for cars, saying the move was designed to reduce the number of vehicles driving through the center instead of skirting built-up areas.

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