Good news from Latvian hotels — in the first quarter of this year the flow of foreign tourists DID NOT drop.
The thing is that in the first half of the preceding year Latvia held the presidency of the EU and the flow of Brussels officials on business spilled over Riga. The European participants of conferences, seminars and even of one summit somewhat took the place of accustomed Russian tourists, who last year painfully outlived devaluation of the rouble.
Early this year 2016 the hoteliers and restaurant-keepers were looking at entry doors with agitation — what if they would not be opened by impoverished Russians or by seconded Europeans? But no, Latvia seems to be in demand as before among travellers: the first quarter of 2016 showed a 2.5% growth of foreign lodgers at local hotels. Each of them, at the average, stayed at hotels 2.1 days.
In total, for the first three months 240.5 thousand foreigners stayed overnight at Latvian hotels. The Russians lead, who even grew in the number over the year — 46 043 people as against 44 619 in the first quarter of 2015. The gain made up 3.2 percent, but, if to calculate the number of overnight stops, would be by 6 percent more.
Increase in the number of Russian tourists is illustrative against the background of weakening of the rouble and deficit of good words towards Russia on the part of the official authorities. Why the Russians nevertheless come to us? To some extent this can be explained by adjustment of RF citizens to euro worth of 70-80 roubles. To some extent by reason that the position of the head of Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the attitude of a particular director of a hotel towards Russian travellers differ visibly. Besides, the Latvian tourism business benefits from closing of habitual places of recreation in Egypt and Turkey for the Russians, as well as from relative cheapness of Riga as compared to London and Paris (if Riga is a small Paris, then prices should be small as well).
The second – third places were shared by the Lithuanians and Estonians. Both stayed in Latvia overnight numbered per 27.4 thousand. But the Lithuanians stayed in beds longer — 42.8 thousand overnight stops as against 39.8 thousand nights spent in hotels by the Estonians.
Among tourists from other countries, who stayed overnight in Latvia by smaller groups, we can distinguish a sharp drop in interest of the Belgians (-34.6%), Dutch (-22.9%), Czechs (-20.8%) and Poles (-15.9%). It looks like the last year’s interest of these nationals was entailed exactly by the presidency of Latvia in the EU. No presidency – no desire to go to Latvia.
But the Japanese and Chinese gladdened pleasantly. Their number in hotels increased by 57.9 and 42.7 accordingly. The only pity is that in relative terms the tourists from Japan (2 534) and China (1 968) noticeably yield to the travelers from Lithuania and Estonia. Though, the trends matter here rather than the number. With such growth rates the Japanese and Chinese in five years would catch up with and overtake the Lithuanians and Estonians.