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Tuesday 23.01.2018 | Name days: Strauta, Grieta

Lux Express: conflict in Ukraine may ‘slow down’ Russian tourist flow to Baltics

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU‘The current instability in Ukraine could create losses for the tourism sector. Up until now there has been a yearly increase in the number of Russian tourists travelling to Baltic States. I do allow the possibility for the growth in the number of tourists to not be as rapid as it has been so far,’ – said Chairman of Lux Express bus service Hannes Saarpuu in his interview to BNN.

Because this company does not service routes to Ukraine, the political situation in that country does not impact the company directly. ‘If we look towards the East, our Riga-St Petersburg route remains in high demand. We also offer our customers other routes as well. We have recently opened a new route: Riga-Vilnius-Prague. We do not plan to change anything in our company policy and development. Nevertheless, like the majority of entrepreneurs, we closely follow the developments in Ukraine,’ – he says.

At the same time, representatives of Lux Express believe that even in the event of sanctions being introduced by the European Union against Russia, people will continue visiting their friends and relatives. ‘The only thing that could impact our business is the closing of the borders. But the possibility of this scenario is low,’ – says the businessman.

The company services two important groups of passengers – business class and individual travellers. ‘By following the events in Ukraine, we and our customers feel worried about possible unforeseen developments. I believe it is the responsibility of every country to take care of its residents and provide them with the necessary feeling of safety. The lack of this safety feeling is the most significant factor that may negatively impact some of our customers, who could refuse or reduce their travels due to emotional reasons,’ – explains the Chairman of Lux Express.

It should be added that travellers from Russia are one of the largest groups of tourists that comes to visit Baltics. For example, last year, the number of guests from Latvia’s neighbouring countries had increased the most: +36.5% of tourists from Belarus and +33.4% of tourists from Russia. This also includes a 21.3% increase of tourists from Estonia and 17% from Lithuania. There was also an increase in the number of guests from Spain (20.6%), the Netherlands (16.7%), Sweden (8.4%) and the UK (5.4%).

Director of Latvian Tourism Development Agency Armands Slokenbergs had previously told BNN that ‘there are multiple external factors that play a role in the tourism industry. Economic situation and political shocks in the world make Western tourists more and more cautious. Instead of spending money on travel, they often decide to save money or travel to neighbouring countries. If this persists, Latvia’s tourism sector will be impacted. Economic growth rates are not too great in CIS countries as well. Its delay may impact foreign travel plans as well.’

‘In regard to the enormous Russian market, it should be said that it has always been risky; rapid economic growth is hand-in-hand with deep drops. The dip of Russian ruble’s exchange rate is a notable factor and there will be consequences to this. Even now we see how the situation in Russia has introduced changes to the tourism sector. The drop of the development of Russia’s national economy and the government’s steps to use the potential of Sochi to its fullest could negatively impact Latvia. I would like to hope that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict will not escalate further. I hope we see the same number of foreign tourists we did last year,’ – said Slokenbergs.

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