A Year of Celebration for Latvia

Latvia has unveiled a whole host of events to commemorate its anniversary

In 2018, Latvia is celebrating the country’s centenary. Andris Ozols, director of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA), gives us the lowdown on what the country is showing at ITB Berlin.

“I am Latvia. I create Latvia. I make Latvia” is the key message guiding the centenary celebrations with the aim of encouraging participation. It serves to remind us that Latvia’s greatest resource is its people who fought for freedom and dedicated their lives to shaping Latvia. Every citizen and organisation is invited to host an event or volunteer some of their time to Latvia.

How was 2017 for tourism in Latvia?

The rst three quarters showed encouraging figures like a 12.7% increase in the number of international arrivals compared to 2016. Bed nights were up by 12.3%. China is one of the top growing markets for us with a 21.4% increase in arrivals, therefore we are planning to continue targeting Chinese travellers. In terms of the number of arrivals, our traditional leaders have kept their positions in the top three, Germany, Russia and Lithuania.

How is the tourism infrastructure evolving over time?

We are seeing an increased interest in leading hotel operators launching properties in Riga. The Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga opened in 2017 and Hilton Garden Inn and Marriott International have plans to enter the market in the coming years, and the Rezidor Hotel Group is building a new property. Local operators Mogotel and Semarah are expanding operations with new city centre properties in Riga.

Outside the capital, a recent opening includes the Zé rglis zipline, which uses existing cable car infrastructure to whisk people across the ancient Gauja River Valley 55 metres above ground at speeds of up to 60km/h.

What are the key highlights for tourists in Latvia?

Our untouched nature provides a blissful escape from the hustle and bustle of modern metropolises. Some 50% of Latvia is covered in forest and we are proud of our four national parks and 500km white sand coastline.

Latvia’s cultural calendar is full of events from local crafts markets to world class opera festivals. Highlights include the Riga Opera Festival in June, Positivus music festival in July, town fairs throughout Latvia in the summer and Riga’s Christmas markets in December.

Thanks to great value for money, quality of ingredients and talented chefs, Latvia is also an increasingly popular foodie destination.

What does the future hold for Latvia’s tourism industry?

The in ux of new hotels mean more beds, conference and meetings spaces so Latvia will become an increasingly popular choice for the MICE sector. There are plans for a dedicated convention centre to be built in central Riga allowing the city to cater to large congresses in the near future.

Hall 18 / Stand 130

Photo: Andris Ozols, Director of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA)