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Latvian tourism industry hopes for lift of 'unnecessary travel' ban

The biggest obstacle to the tourism sector in Latvia is currently a ban on entry for 'non-essential' reasons, and no influx of tourists can be expected until it is lifted, Santa Graikste, executive director of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants, told Latvian Radio June 8.

Graikste said that the industry is now looking forward to the launch of the digital Covid-19 certificate within the European Union. Given that the certificate is only partly active for the time being, it is too early to see how much it will help to recover from the crisis.

However, the restriction that travelers from the EU, European Economic Area countries, Switzerland and the United Kingdom may only enter Latvia for urgent reasons is currently the biggest obstacle to the sector, Graikste said. She said that the industry has discussed the lifting of the ban with the Ministry of Health on at least three occasions, but it is not yet clear when and whether the travel restrictions will be lifted.

Graikste also said that the number of reservations in hotels is currently low for summer months. Foreign tourists are mostly staying in Rīga and local travelers in the regions, said the association's executive director, adding that “the situation is much better in the regions.” 

The ban on 'non-essential' travel has been in force in Latvia since February. It stipulates that people can only travel for:

  • work;
  • training, studies;
  • family reunion;
  • in order to receive medical services;
  • transit;
  • accompanying a minor;
  • return to one’s permanent place of residence;
  • attending a funeral
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