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Tuesday 06.12.2016 | Name days: Niklāvs, Niks, Nikolajs
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Economic Diary of Latvia. Making money off tourism and transit

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUA summit of transport ministers and a business conference of countries of Central and Eastern Europe and China were held in Riga this week. As a result of the meeting, a final document was approved, which provides for cooperation in the development of an integrated transport corridor between China and Europe.

This document mentions the development of container transport routes between China and Europe, enhancement of the order for crossing borders, development of compatibility and general cooperation on the Eurasian continent as part of the New Silk Road.

Furthermore, a secretariat for coordination of cooperation in 16+1 format was opened in Riga; its official website has also come online. Fulfilment of functions of a coordinator-state has cost Latvia approximately EUR 500,000.

Nevertheless, as previously mentioned by Transport Ministry, the status of a coordinator state will provide Latvia with new opportunities in the development of partner relations with China.

Entrepreneurs from China have visited Riga Freeport and analysed its potential as part of the 16+1 visit. First of all the Chinese businessmen asked about cooperation opportunities with investments into existing terminals, not new projects and logistical objects.

During their visit to Riga Freeport, they also expressed interest towards development as whole, financial results, outlooks for the future, influence of the geopolitical situation and the mutual EU-Russian sanctions.

For those who missed the handouts

While Riga was accepting important guests, Latvia’s representatives in Moscow were busy telling about their plans to attract Russian tourists to Latvia. They organized a business-breakfast at Nikolskaya Hotel to tell about tourism offers. This event was attended by the advisor to Latvia’s Economy Ministry, heat of the representation office of Latvia’s Agency for Development and Investments in Russia Iveta Strupkaja, head of TEZ Tour Latvia Konstantin Palgov and director of airBaltic’s office in Russia, CIS, Ukraine and Georgia Andrey Larchenko.

Latvia is the pearl of Baltic States. It has remarkably rich historic and cultural heritage. Tourists feel comfortable in Latvia – every person finds something interesting and pleasant. The country has developed all kinds of tourism: from active and gastronomic to health and shopping tourism. People remain one of the biggest treasures in Latvia – hospitable and friendly, said Iveta Strupkaja in her speech.

She also mentioned that many different events organized specifically for tourists take place regularly in Latvia. For example, Positivus festival is one of the most significant summer music events, which takes place in Salacgriva. Participation in the three-day festival costs EUR 60, which is significantly less in comparison with other European festivals. In addition, tourists may also like Ligo celebration, STARO Riga festival and the ice sculptures festival in Jelgava.

According to Konstantin Palgov, Latvia is a perspective destination from the perspective of leisure. Russian tourists are in need of new markets, and Latvia is prepared to provide them with variety and affordable prices. The lack of large groups of tourists makes Latvia a location for peaceful and comfortable leisure. In addition, Latvia can become a good destination to learn more about other European countries or a hub to connect with countries in Scandinavia.

According to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, in spite of the fact that the number of guests from Russia had declined by 31.5% in 2015, they still make up the majority of foreign guests – 203,700 people.

Latest statistical data confirms that the interest for Latvia remain strong. According to information from Travel.ru, capitals of Baltic States have been the most popular destinations for Russian tourists during the May celebrations.

Latvia is not likely to become an industrial country, but it may still be possible to carve a piece of the tourism market, which is largely thanks to favourable climate, food products, nature and other unique selling points.

No touching taxes

The EC recommends Latvia to reduce the tax burden for people with low income and instead increase taxes for natural resources and real estate property. Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis, on the other hand, has said that the government has no plans to change tax rates.

According to information from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, 43.7% of employed people in Latvia were being paid net salaries of less than EUR 450 in Q1 2016.

The proportion of employed workers paid EUR 450.01 to EUR 700 per month was 30.8% in Q1 (30.1% in Q1 2015). 17.4% of employed people in Latvia received salaries of EUR 700.01 to EUR 1,400 a month (13.4% in Q1 2015) and salaries of EUR 1,400.01 or larger was paid to 2.9% of employed people in Latvia (1.9% in Q1 2015). According to data from the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, 61% of the population or 889,200 people were employed in Q1 2016, which is 1.3 percentage points more in comparison with the year prior, but 0.4 percentage points lower in comparison with Q4 2015.

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