Tourism in Latvia in 2020: a bumpy road

The tourism sector has been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis. Some businesses say, though, that the year 2020 was their  best, Latvian Radio reported February 27.

 Data from the Central Statistical Bureau show that last year 1.46 million foreign and local tourists stayed in Latvia, almost by half less than in 2019, making it the lowest rate in the last 10 years.

However, for some tourism businesses, the year was very successful. Local residents stayed in the countryside, while hotels and restaurants in the capital city remained empty.

The President of the Latvian Rural Tourism Association, Asnāte Ziemele, estimated that the year was all in waves – up here, down elsewhere. Although last year there were 17.6% fewer tourists in rural accommodation than a year ago, last summer has been a success for many tourist entrepreneurs in the countryside.

"There are even businesses who have said they had the best season in history. Especially those farther from the cities, in the middle of the forest, where there are separate houses for one household.

"Of course, those who focused on corporate events and weddings – it has been much more difficult, some have been closed until summer. The owners have figured out that it's not worth waiting for the two people who come over the weekend."

Last year, the number of foreign guests in Latvia decreased by 63.3% compared to 2019. This, of course, was most felt by hotels and restaurants in Riga. 

Currently 30 hotels are closed, but no major changes are expected until foreign tourists enter the country and restaurants and SPA are restored.

“Some of them have been closed since March last year but not permanently. If this situation continues, services will not be restored, the situation may be critical. Entrepreneurs are currently using a revolving funds program that has been extended until June. Of course, the situation is different in Rīga, because of the inadequately high estate tax. Rīga companies use support programs as much as possible,” said executive director of Latvian Association of Hotels and Restaurants Santa Graikste said.

The most foreign guests arrived in Latvia last year from Lithuania and Estonia. This was due to the fact that citizens of the Baltic States were able to move freely in the Baltic area in the summer.

“Very much welcomed was last year's Baltic bubble, plus Finland. It has produced good enough results. If Germany was attached to it, it would be possible to work on such a compound. We very much hope that this year, however, we will gradually return to traditional tracks. We are in favor of the industry working and contributing to the Latvian economy,” Graikste said.

 

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