Tourism in Latvia increases despite fewer guests from Russia

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Even though the number of tourists from Russia has fallen, the number of people who visit Latvia is increasing. In 2014, the number of tourists increased for about 7%. Russian guests still make up the bulk of visitors, and tourism activity is likely to fall as Latvia's EU Presidency winds down. 

Vita Jermoloviča, the head of the Latvian Tourism Development Agency said that the fall in the number of tourists from Russia is compensated by Europeans, but the latter have different spending habits. She also said that the situation this year, in terms of statistics, is all but identical to that of last year.

"Tourists from Europe are happy to see the small streets of Old Riga, the restaurants and the attractions. However, they spend less on trinkets and toys than tourists from Russia do," said Jermoloviča.

European tourists tend to spend more on hotels and restaurants. Twice as many people have come from the United Kingdom, and the French and the Dutch also seem to enjoy Riga immensely. 

Jānis Vālodze, President of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants, noted that Latvia has hosted a number of business visitors who attended because of Latvia's Presidency in the EU.

"In July and Augusts we usually see visitors arriving in tours. Tours from the Northern countries have decreased in number due to geopolitics - before, many tours included Riga as a part of a Russian tour, but now they have to make amends," said Vālodze.

Tourism in regions could be improved as well. "The main task for the whole of Latvia is - how to motivate tourists to leave the capital, as more than 80% of tourists stay in Riga," said Laura Konstante of the Development Agency of Sigulda.

Although there is more than one way to skin a cat, it seems that it's still a struggle for tourism agencies, hotels and restaurants to find the right tools for the task.

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