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1 Jul, 2023 05:30

EU state’s hotel industry boss counts cost of anti-Russia sanctions

Latvia has lost a third of its tourists following a ban on most Russian visitors, Andris Kalnins has said
EU state’s hotel industry boss counts cost of anti-Russia sanctions

Latvia has lost a third of its tourists since downgrading ties with Russia over the Ukraine conflict and is unlikely to ever recover the loss, the president of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants of Latvia, Andris Kalnins, said on Friday.

The Baltic nation had long been a popular destination for Russian travelers, due to its close proximity to Russia, and historical ties as a former part of the Soviet Union.

In September 2022 Latvia clamped down on tourism from Russia, with Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkevics tweeting: “You're not welcome here – you need to end the war against Ukraine and be gone from that beautiful country!”

The ban – which covers most Russian visitors, except for EU residence permit holders and some other categories – has dealt a major blow to Latvia’s tourism industry. Russians previously accounted for a third of all visitors to the country.

“It is impossible to cover all the Slavic market that we have lost. We used to have about 30% of tourists coming from Russia,” Kalnins said.

Last week, following the Wagner Group mutiny in Russia, Latvia further tightened its border controls, and stopped issuing all types of visas to Russian citizens.

The country's tourism industry players have acknowledged that “Russia was an important market.”

Vladislav Koryagin, CEO of the Baltic Travel Group, admitted that “of course, we miss it,” adding that “from an economic perspective, this decision may not have helped local businesses.”

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