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Saturday 18.11.2017 | Name days: Doloresa, Aleksandrs
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LTDA: political tension may impact Riga as Europe’s cultural capital

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThis may prove somewhat beneficial if such prime locations like Riga Castle and Latvian National Museum of Art are restored and made available to the capital’s guests in time. However, even though there have been countess promises, Latvia’s National Library has not yet been finished.

Unfortunately, the reality is such that Latvian authorities seem to take money with one hand and fail to uphold their promises with the other, as it was told to BNN in an interview by Director of Latvian Tourism Development Agency Armands Slokenbergs.

‘Both Riga Castle and Art Museum could have enriched Riga’s cultural programme. But there is always a risk when working with tight deadlines. There can be many different situations when good ideas are never properly realized,’ – he said.

With that, he notes that it is impossible to assess the flow of tourists to Latvia that was present in Q1 2014. This is because data will only be available only at the end of May. However, based on his world it seems that Latvia’s mentioning by many international mass media channels is a great benefit for the country’s overall recognition in the world. Latvia is frequently mentioned in articles of the British The Guardian and French Lonely Planet Magazine, as well as multiple other foreign publications. ‘Through cooperative efforts with LiveRiga and Riga 2014, we have carried out discussions with many foreign journalists. The number of their requirements greatly exceeds our capabilities to satisfy all of them,’ – he said.

When asked to give some sort of prediction as to what can Latvia’s tourism sector expect from 2014, Slokenbergs admits ‘it is no simple task – to make sure publicity caused by Riga’s status as Europe’s cultural capital helps attract tourists and increases the overall proportion of art patrons and cultural tourists in Latvia. Another problem is our capabilities to maintain the current level of competitiveness in terms of price/quality. There is a certain risk for Latvia to become the most expensive in a market, where we have always remained within acceptable price range.’

According to him, external factors play a major role in tourism. The economic situation and developments in foreign countries cause residents of different countries to be careful and go travelling to nearby countries instead of spending money on travel to distant countries. Economic growth is not as clear as it is in CIS countries; it is slow and could potentially impact resident’s decisions to travel.

‘Speaking of the Russian market, it should be said that it has always been rather risky: rapid growth is often followed by a deep dip in economic growth. The drop in Russian ruble’s value is an important factor, which may yet have dire implications. Even now it is clear that Russia has added correction to its business-tourism plans. Reduction of the rate of the country’s economic growth and Russia’s continued steps to use the potential of Sochi to its fullest may negatively impact Latvia’s business-tourism indexes. I would love to hope that there will be no further escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. I also hope we will as many foreign tourists as we did last year,’ – says Slokenbergs.

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