Latvian residents are not the unfriendliest, but are more self-critical about their attitude about tourists, Economy Minister Daniels Pavluts comments the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) rating for global tourism competitiveness.
According to the Tourism Development Agency (TDA), the WEF reports is very extensive and multi-faceted. One of the three basic aspects that help evaluate a country’s tourism competition, is affinity – sympathy toward travelling and tourists in general. Affinity is measured with a number of criteria – openness to tourism, residents’ attitude toward foreign tourists, recommendations to extend business trips and the general orientation toward consumers.
Pavluts admits that Latvians are not the unfriendliest, but some of the more self-critical about their attitude for tourists. Self-criticism often borders with unjustified stigmatization in public space – such a phenomenon can be seen in many areas.
“Instead of evaluating the improvement of Latvia’s competitiveness in the area of tourism, we see ourselves called as the least tourist friendly country in the headlines, which contradicts the statements of tourists in the recent TAVA survey, which shows the responsiveness of Latvian residents as one of the main factors why tourists travel to Latvia. Residents and representatives of all four powers should note and emphasize all the good things we have achieved, the things that make Latvia stand out,” – says the minister.
In order to accurately identify the improvements in Latvia’s tourism policy and actions, TAVA carried out a foreign tourist survey in 2011. More than 3000 guests of our country participated.
A little over half of them had visited Latvia for the first time, 28% of respondents were on their second to fourth visit to Latvia. 20% of respondents had visited Latvia more than four times. Every third tourist from Estonia, Lithuania and Russia can be considered “regular” guests of Latvia. Western tourists also tend to come back – every second interviewed tourist came from England, while 40% were Swedish tourists.
Results of the survey show that tourists generally follow Latvia’s tourism motto “Rest without rush”. 75.4% of respondents more or less agree with this statement. Nearly 60% of respondents knew from the start where they were going, so their expectations were met. Latvia’s impression improved for 39.1% of respondents, and only 3.2% of respondents were disappointed.
Respondents mentioned the following factors as the most important ones they see in Latvia: safety, responsiveness of local residents, authenticity of cultural heritage, and nature.
When speaking about the responsiveness of local residents in regard to tourists, respondents give a total of 3.93 points out of 5. 1.2% of respondents called Latvians unfriendly.