Travel abroad not yet impacted by energy prices in Latvia

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Representatives of tourism travel companies estimate that the summer has not been much different to the pre-pandemic summer of 2019. How will travel abroad be affected by rising energy prices and other factors in the autumn and winter? Latvian Radio talked to experts on October 21.

The President of the Latvian Association of Tourism Agents and Operators and the head of the travel agency Vanilla Travel, Inga Kavaca, said that in summer the demand for trips outside Latvia was higher than previously planned, but in autumn, as usual, residents travel less than in summer.

"At the beginning of the autumn, they choose further destinations or visit big cities. Maybe it's not so hot, fewer people, and then you can look around more. Travel in general to distant lands, Bali, Thailand, Mexico. Due to the possibility of direct flights in Latvia, these will be the most demanding flights now to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. And the trend is that people travel longer, 3-4 weeks, even longer than that. Since there are great opportunities to work remotely, such a trend has been observed," Kavaca said.

Riga International Airport spokeswoman Ilze Salna estimated that the airport would service a planned 5.2 million passengers by the end of the year. This is due to the fact that airlines offer new destinations and to the stabilizing number of passengers traveling in transit.

Salna said: “We still see very good aircraft filling, between 70% and 80%. Currently, 17 airlines work at Riga airport. Part of that is also charter flights. Those programs are still active, and passengers are taking advantage of opportunities to go mostly to warm destinations with charter flights. At the beginning of the winter flight season, so the end of October or early November, the national airline airBaltic will offer two new destinations to Marrakesh in Morocco. So it will be the first permanent route from Riga to the African continent. And the other news in the winter season will be flights to Gran Canaria. During the winter season, we will offer approximately 75 direct destinations from the Riga airport every week, which will continue to be the broadest range of destinations from all Baltic airports."

Sanda Roze, head of the sales department of the tourism agency Novatours, said that the number of foreign trips returned to pre-pandemic levels this summer.

"The autumn has not been the same, but of course, the offer is also slightly smaller overall than it is in the summer season. But, let's say, the speed of bookings is as we expected it to be. So it's not to say that there is some kind of drop at the moment. Of course, we don't know what will follow in a month or a half. By the end of October, many will receive actual bills for heat and electricity, [..]" Roze said.

President of the Latvian Association of Tourism Agents and Operators Kavaca estimated that travel is becoming more expensive and tourists can no longer rely on last-minute prices.

"We recommend planning timely, half a year forward, but you cannot expect something very cheap a day or two before departure. The demand is so great that the planes are simply full. And so is this autumn's trend of rising prices in tourism.

"[..] Just because the industry has been very limited for two years, some costs are increasing. But now energy prices, fuel prices, are also rising. Of course, this has some impact on costs, but it should be said that, for example, hotels are trying to keep the price level as low as possible, not to raise it too much. [..] Travelling is certainly a way to switch thinking again, restore energy. Perhaps it will also be left as a priority," Kavaca said.

The tourism industry forecasts that some Europeans could spend this winter in warmer lands, as they have become accustomed to working remotely during the pandemic. In Turkey, for example, the number of tourists has already increased by 108% in the eight months of this year.


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