The annual general meeting of the European Tour Operators Association took place in Rīga this week, with representatives of 25 countries participating, Inese Šīrava, head of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency (LIAA) Tourism Department, told Latvian Radio. As one of the recent success stories, she mentioned Liepāja, which has produced a diverse tourism offer.
If last year, when the pandemic had not yet ended but the war in Ukraine had already started, visitors to Latvia canceled their bookings en masse. This summer, interest in touring Latvia has re-emerged not only for neighboring Lithuania and Estonia but also for visitors from distant tourism markets, like Japan and the United States.
The tourists were also attracted by international events in Latvia.
“Looking at booking services over the summer, the situation is already improving this year. Of course, big events, such as the World Hockey Championship, are also helping, during which there were many foreign tourists in Latvia. Also [tourists from] countries that do not come to us every day – the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland – gave us a good contribution to the economy with revenues from different services,” she pointed out.
Tourists from Germany, the UK, and the Nordic countries are returning to Latvia again. Interest in Latvia has increased not only in Western Europe but also in Southern Europe, said Šīrava.
"Of course, traditionally the most demanded is cultural tourism. Unchanged – Rīga as the main destination. People are happy to go to regional cities. We can mention Liepāja as one of the last success stories, given its diverse tourism supply.
"Many like the nature of Latvia, the fact that we have places where people can be alone. People like the fact that we don't have mass tourism, they're interested in hiking trails and resting by the waters," Šīrava said.
The war in Ukraine continues to have the most negative impact on tourism in countries bordering Russia, so the flow of travelers in the region this summer will not be at the level of 2019.