Tourists are less and less scared of Covid-19; people use the lockdown to travel

Although the official Covid-19 statistics in September this year were much more frightening than a year ago, 35.8% more foreign and local guests were served in Latvian tourist accommodation in September this year than in September 2020.
16.11.2021. Ilze Šteinfelde
 
©Vladislavs PROŠKINS, F64 Photo Agency

Data from the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDPC) show that in September 2020, the cumulative number of confirmed cases per 100,000 population in Latvia was in the range of 4.2 (September 2) to 11.5 (September 28), while September this year - from 159.3 (September 3) to 486.5 (September 30). However, this year, unlike last year, vaccination against Covid-19 is available, which has made traveling easier.

However, tourism still lags far behind pre-pandemic times. In September of this year, the number of tourists served in guest houses was 38.4% lower than before the pandemic in September 2019.

In September 2021, 71,500 foreign guests were served in tourist accommodations, which is twice as many as in September 2020, however, by 58.4% less than before the pandemic in September 2019. Compared to September of the previous year, the number of nights spent by foreign guests has increased by 76.6%, and it was 132,100. However, the number of Latvian residents served increased by only 4.9% compared to September 2020, and the number of nights spent decreased by 3.4%.

Mostly tourists from Lithuania and Germany

The CSB data show that in the 3rd quarter of 2021 (July, August, September together) 662,000 foreign and local guests were served in tourist accommodation establishments, which is 6.7% less than in the 3rd quarter of 2020 and 35.8% less than in the 3rd quarter of 2019. Guests spent 1.2 million nights in tourist accommodations, which is 10% less than in the 3rd quarter of the previous year. The average length of stay was 1.8 nights.

The highest number of foreign guests was received from Lithuania (60,300, a decrease of 50.3%), Germany (41,000, an increase of 37.6%), Estonia (34,900, a decrease of 60.9%), Poland (13,400, an increase of 82.3%) and the United Kingdom (11,400, an increase of 74%).

The decrease in the number of guests from Lithuania, Estonia and Finland in the third quarter of 2021 can be explained by the so-called Baltic bubble last summer, within which cross-border travel between neighboring countries and Finland increased significantly last year.

In the 3rd quarter of 2021, the largest number of foreign guests was received in Riga - 65.3%, Jūrmala - 12.7%, Liepāja - 3.8%, Ventspils - 2.6% and Sigulda municipality - 1.9%.

During this time, 399,600 Latvian residents were served in tourist accommodation establishments, which is 13.7% more than in the 3rd quarter of 2020, and the number of nights spent by them has increased by 9.1%.

In the first nine months of 2021, 1 million guests were accommodated in Latvian tourist accommodation establishments - 18.7% less than in the first nine months of 2020 and 54.2% less than in the first nine months of 2019.

Part of the population used the lockdown for travel

The population of Latvia went on leisure and other personal trips around Latvia and abroad 1,167,835 times in 2020, and 1,326,085 times in 2019. A month ago, when a lockdown had just been introduced in Latvia, which provided for remote work, an extension of students' holidays and a curfew, Audrone Keinīte, the head of the tour operator Novatours, told Neatkarīgā that there was a high demand for trips planned in both October and November. "After the government-announced lockdown, the travelers who were in Turkey at the time were happy to extend the holidays until the last possible flight. Already during the spring lockdown, we noticed a tendency in the clients' desire for a long vacation abroad, for remote work. At that time, offers to Tenerife were actively purchased. It's the same this fall. In general, we are seeing a gradual decline in the demand for last-minute travel and people returning to planning their trips in a more timely manner by booking trips beforehand. The EU's digital Covid-19 certificate has stabilized travel regulations, and it has opened up the possibility for more people to travel safer - both from Latvia and other countries. As the flow of tourists continues to increase and the epidemiological situation stabilizes, the next summer season is expected to be particularly active. According to forecasts, the most popular hotels will be booked well before the start of the summer season. People are longing for travel,” emphasized Audrone Keinīte.

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