A bravura report of the statisticians on tourist flow that flooded Latvia last year (+9.5% in comparison with 2014) upon further thought somewhat pales.
Out of 6.8 million foreign tourists just one third stayed in Latvia for more than one day. The rest nearly 5 million people, who had time to take Latvian air just for few hours – are transients.
Or air travellers, who changed planes, even staying within the transit lounge of Riga Airport.
Or the Estonians and the Lithuanians, who lost their national airlines and who are forced to maintain avia communication with the external world through the capital of Latvia. The restless urge for change of place resulted in that the Estonian and Lithuanian tourists took in Latvian statistics in summation almost 60% of the total flow of travellers — the Lithuanians made up 38.6%, but the Estonians 19.4% of all tourists.
It is good, indeed, that the Estonians and the Lithuanians come to Riga, spend their euro en route from the border to the airport at petrol stations and coffee vending machines. But this makes not a blind bit of difference to the Latvian hotels, restaurants, and guides.
Among those who come to Latvia seriously and for the long haul are tourists from the USA (on the average 8.7 nights), Ireland (8.6 nights), Great Britain (6.9 nights) and Russia (6.8 nights).
It’s another matter that the flow of Anglo-Saxons amounts to thousands travellers, but of the Russians – to hundreds of thousands. It is not surprising that in Latvia last year most of money was spent by tourists from Russia — one in five euro brought to the republic via the tourist line, came to us from pockets of the Russians. In absolute figures this is about 150 million euro.
It is also interesting to note that the Russians spent most money despite that during the year in total they come to Latvia in quantitative terms 2.3 times less than the Estonians and 4.7 times less than the Lithuanians. It means that our southern and northern neighbours are beyond the Latvian beauties — they cannot wait until they jump in the plane and fly to spend their money somewhere away from Latvia.
Speaking of forecasts for this year, a few factors should be taken into consideration.
First, the number of day – fly tourists, who get to Latvia with the sole purpose to depart from Riga Airport, should go down. By the end of this year the Latvian national airline is planning to receive up to 7 new Canadian planes Bombardier CS100 and boost direct flights from Tallinn and Vilnius. So, the Lithuanians and Estonians will not have to go to Riga any more, which will hurt the tourist statistics.
Second, unlike 2015 this year Latvia does not chair the EU. Which means that the flow of the European pencil pushers on business missions would dip down.
As far as the Russian are concerned, their flow may grow. Against the background of closed Egypt and Turkey, as well as in light of considerable prices of Southern Europe, Latvia is at an advantage – looks low-priced, is not far and speaks Russian. Plus – relatives and friends.
In 2015 Latvia was visited by 6.8 million foreign tourists, by 9.5% more than in 2014, as evidenced by data of the Central Statistical Bureau.
Most of foreign tourists came to Latvia from Lithuania (38.6%), Estonia (19.4%), Russia (8.3%) and Sweden (4.9%).
Expenditures of foreign tourists in Latvia, apart from transport costs, in 2015 made up 742.2 million euro – by 73.7 million euro (11%) more than in 2014. In particular, the tourists, who came for few days spent in Latvia 540.8 million euro – by 4.6% more than in 2014.
Last year 2 million foreign tourists stayed in Latvia for longer than one day, where 33.5% of them visited Latvia for the first time. On the average they stayed in Latvia four days (in 2014 – 4.2 days) and spent on the average 66.3 euro per day – 0.30 euro less than in 2014.
Most of money was spent in Latvia by tourists from Russia (18.1%), Lithuania (9.9%) and Germany (9.8%), but on the average per day – from Norway (114.3 euro), Finland (107.9 euro), Austria (106.2 euro) and Denmark (99.2 euro).
30.3% of foreign tourists came to Latvia for recreation, 16.2% – to visit friends and relatives, 11.7% – on business.
The majority – 67.5% – of tourists came to Latvia by road. 26.2% arrived by air, 5.1% – by sea, 1.3% –by railroad.
Last year 60.3% of foreign tourists stayed overnight in hotels and other places of accommodation, 33.2% – at relatives and friends.