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Lithuania aims to restore pre-pandemic foreign tourist numbers as soon as possible

Date

2022 10 21

Rating
1
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Minister of the Economy and Innovation Aušrinė Armonaitė, who took part in the Lithuanian Tourism Forum "Rethinking tourism" ("Permąstykime turizmą") in Vilnius on Friday, said that Lithuania should strive to quickly restore the number of foreign tourists arriving to the country to the number of foreign tourists before the pandemic in 2019. 

At the Lithuanian Tourism Forum, industry experts, business representatives and economists are discussing the future of Lithuanian tourism. This year, in line with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation's Tourism Day theme "Rethinking Tourism", the discussion focuses on what needs to be done to make tourism more resilient, sustainable and innovative. According to Booking.com's research, by 2022 as many as 81% of travellers place a high priority on sustainable travel, and favour properties with sustainability credentials.

"I am well aware that due to the changed geopolitical situation and other unforeseen challenges, the expectations of this summer season have not been met 100%. It is very important for us that tourism in Lithuania recovers. Therefore, we need everyone's efforts to think of new tourism solutions and ideas to make us interesting and competitive on a global scale and to recover tourist flows faster. Lithuania needs to develop new tourism products, taking into account the trends of innovative, sustainable, green and smart tourism," said the Minister of the Economy and Innovation. 

Signs of recovery in tourism are already visible. In the first half of 2022, 456,000 foreign tourists stayed in Lithuanian accommodation establishments, which is 4 times more than in the same period in 2021.  More than half the level of 2019. Domestic tourism has not only recovered, but also surpassed the pre-pandemic year 2019.

To ensure that the upcoming winter is not too difficult for the tourism sector, Lithuania will reduce the VAT rate for hotels for an indefinite period and extend the VAT exemption for restaurants for at least half a year, said the Minister Armonaitė. A part of the cost of electricity will also be reimbursed.  

The Forum also awarded prizes to companies and organisations in the tourism sector that have promoted sustainable tourism and launched new products in 2022.  

Druskininkai Municipality was voted the most sustainable tourism destination in 2022, having developed an integrated action plan for sustainable tourism this year and installed solar power plants on the roofs of 14 municipal institutions, as well as 14 charging points for electric cars. 

The Šiauliai City Tourism Information Centre was recognised as the most sustainable tourism information centre, encouraging tourists to travel in an environmentally friendly way, actively contributing to saving energy resources, creating a route for people with reduced mobility, introducing an educational game with sign language translation and providing information in braille. 

The Lithuanian Rural Tourism Association won the nomination for the most sustainable tourism service in 2022 for its hiking route "Miško takas"(Forest path). This is a long-distance hiking route in Lithuania that takes you through some of Lithuania's most beautiful forests, meadows, villages, towns and villages and stretches for 747 km. Each section of the route offers unique places to visit, offering traditional dishes, education, museums or accommodation in an ethnographic farmhouse. 

The most sustainable tourism service provider in 2022 is UAB Hotel Neris (Radisson Hotel Kaunas). All conferences and events held at the hotel are CO2 neutral, the restaurant is based on sustainability principles and the food is made from local farm products. 

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (WTO), which brings together 159 countries, is constantly on the lookout for unique destinations and sustainable tourism services. In Lithuania, the WTO award for unique services and traditions that foster local community traditions was presented to UAB Via Unica, which is a member of the ECO Hotels system - a percentage of each reservation is donated to clean up oceans and reforestation. The hotel donates unusable textiles to the Panevėžys Animal Care Society, and this year part of the car park has been replaced by a greenhouse and a vegetable garden, as well as electric car charging points for guests.