Latvians cautious of holiday travel this year

About one third of Latvian residents plan to travel outside the Baltic states for pleasure this summer – mostly those whose income per family member exceeds 1,000 euros per month, reports Latvian Radio. 

The number of passengers at "Riga" airport could return to the pre-crisis level this summer, but tour operators are mostly cautious about the summer tourism season, as travel prices have risen by an average of 30%, Latvian Radio said.

A Swedbank survey of the vacation plans of the Latvian population shows how the financial capabilities of the population change over the years - whether or not they can afford to travel, how often and how far.

Evija Kropa, an expert at the Swedbank Financial Institute, said that a quarter of respondents will not travel at all because they cannot afford it, a third will travel in Latvia and the Baltic States, and a third will go to another European country or further afield.

"45% of the respondents admit that they will either travel less [than previously] or not at all. They decide to save money because they do not feel sure about what the next heating season or the coming months will bring. We also see this according to the survey data, that those who will travel and will absolutely not change their plans, most often have relatively high incomes of 1,000 euros and more per family member," said Kropa. 

Ilze Salna, the representative of Riga Airport, said that the number of transit passengers has decreased [likely due to Russia's war in Ukraine], but the number of direct passengers has returned to pre-pandemic levels, and since the beginning of the year, the airport has served more than 2.2 million passengers.

Currently, you can fly to 91 destinations from Rīga, the most extensive offering among the Baltic States' airports.

"As for charters, a total of 10 destinations are offered this year, three of them are new – Tirana, Kavala and Rimini, and charter programs are provided by six tour operators," said Salna.

There are some destinations, for example Barcelona, ​​where practically one hundred percent occupancy is on all flights. Likewise, other destinations in Spain, as well as Yerevan, Baku and Belgrade, are among the most requested from Rīga Airport. Bucharest, Dubai, Amsterdam are also in demand. 

"Looking at how the number of passengers is increasing and the number of flights is increasing, we really encourage passengers to plan to arrive at the airport at least two hours before their flight, especially if you're traveling during the morning and evening peak periods," the airport spokeswoman urged.

Board member of the Association of Latvian Tourism Agents and Operators and manager of "Vanilla Travel" Inga Kavaca says that the desire or ability to travel tends to come in waves – first at the end of April and beginning of May, then in June, then in September, and in October.

"It's Turkey, the coast of Antalya, the Mediterranean, and then there's Greece with the islands. Those would be the first ones, but anyway it's Europe," Kavaca said.

According to Kavacs, people's interest and desire to travel is high, but the high costs involved with family travel are a barrier. Prices rose first as a result of Covid-19, then increases in fuel and food costs have exacerbated the problem.

Eurostat data show that the proportion of households in Latvia that can afford to spend at least one week of annual vacation away from home is 71%, which is in line with the European average, Latvian Radio said. 

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