Tourism sector worried about possible restrictions on Lithuanian travelers

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The government will discuss the possible inclusion of Lithuania in the list of countries heavily affected by COVID-19, but the Latvian tourism sector is alarmed by this possibility and considers that Lithuania should be exempted, Latvian Radio reported August 25.

According to data compiled by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the cumulative number of 14-day infection cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Lithuania has already reached 13.7. It is the highest since April.

In Latvia, the 14-day self-isolation must be observed when entering from countries where such an indicator exceeds 16. If Lithuania is included in the so-called “yellow” or “red” list of countries, it will be a powerful blow for the Latvian tourism industry, which was able to survive this summer thanks to the activity of Baltic travelers within the "Baltic Bubble".

Inga Kavaca, president of the Association of Latvian Travel Agents and Operators, stressed that tourist movement in the Baltic States helped hotels, restaurants and guesthouses outside Riga this summer.

“The situation is that travelers from Lithuania constitute the highest percentage in Latvia, the second highest percentage is Finland. If Lithuanians are not allowed to enter Latvia, local tourism, which worked well this summer, local residents will no longer be able to travel because school will start and tourism in Latvia would practically halt,” Kavaca said.

The head of the rural tourism “Country Traveller” association, Asnāte Ziemele, also said that Lithuanians, particularly in Kurzeme, were visiting frequently this summer and that market closures would have a major impact on the sector. In her opinion, it is necessary to apply an exemption or preferential conditions.

“We are against, and in the name of cooperation and unity in the Baltic, we should find a different solution to these restrictions, as Finland and Estonia did – Finland grants an exemption to Estonia even if, by Finnish standards, Estonia should be included in this "red" list. We should also look at the unity of the Baltic and make exceptions,” Ziemele said.

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