Russian tourists spend more, claims Riga tourism chief

Tourists coming to Latvia from the West spend less money than tourists from Eastern countries, Riga Tourism Development Bureau (RTAB) board member Vita Jermolovica told the BNS newswire Monday.

She said that even though the number of tourists in Latvia had actually risen in the first quarter of this year, revenues had fallen and blamed the drop on the reduced number of tourists from Russia.

"Tourists coming from the West -- the UK, Belgium, Germany -- are not the [most] generous. They are buying less, spending less. They are spending less money in restaurants, on souvenirs, in cultural events. These are different people with different habits than those who were coming from the East -- arriving in Europe and buying much and spending much," she said.

However, the source or details of Jermolovica's data on spending habits were not given.

According to information published 25 May by the national statistics office, Russian visitors accounted for just 19% of visitors to Latvia during the first quarter of the year, a proportional drop of 40% over the same period a year earlier.

In the first quarter of 2015 there were 360,500 visitors in hotels and other accommodation establishments, which is 3.4% more than in the first quarter of 2014. 

Visitors from neighbors Estonia and Lithuania accounted for 11% of visitors each, followed by Germany (6.8%), the United Kingdom (6%) and Norway (5.8%).

The number of overnight stays in the Latvian hotels and other tourist facilities rose by 0.3 percent year-on-year to 693,700 in the first quarter of this year.

The Riga Tourism Development Office (RTAB) was established in late 2009 by Riga City Council (which owns 70% of it), the national air carrier Airbaltic (10 pct), the Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association (10 pct) and the Association of Latvian Tourism Agents (10 pct) to promote Riga as a tourism destination for foreign travelers.

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