Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia discuss joint actions to boost tourist flows


2023 01 24


Tourism representatives from the three Baltic States are meeting in Vilnius today to discuss how to step up cooperation to bring tourists back to the region. 

“The protracted COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have not yet allowed the Baltic States to recover lost tourist flows, and the implementation of planned joint activities has also slowed down,” says Vincas Jurgutis, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation. “However, Lithuania is exceeding the forecasts for tourist arrivals and expects a recovery as early as next year. Joint actions of the Baltic States will also have a major impact on this.”  

According to the Vice-Minister, the Baltic States’ unity in facing global challenges, making plans for the future, and promoting tourism is crucial. Often tourists, especially from distant markets, visit all three Baltic States, and not just one, on a single trip, so it is crucial to create a common image of the region, to share the responsibilities by participating in international exhibitions and business missions.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s forecasts for early 2023, global indicators of foreign tourist arrivals this year could reach 80-95% of pre-pandemic levels. It is expected that tourists, in response to the difficult economic conditions, will increasingly seek value for money and travel closer to home.

Looking at the challenges and trends in tourism, the Joint Tourism Committee meeting in Vilnius discusses how to step up cooperation in international tourism organisations by implementing European Commission regulations, presenting the Baltic States to distant markets, and jointly participating in business missions and tourism exhibitions. The Committee also focuses on the European Commission’s proposal on the collection and sharing of data on short-term accommodation rental services. Discussions focus on how the countries intend to implement this regulation, what impact it will have on tourist flows, whether the data collected will help to harmonise and improve the system for collecting and sharing data on short-term accommodation and increase transparency in the sector.  

According to Eurostat data for 2023, in terms of tourist overnight stays, last year EU countries were close to reaching pre-pandemic levels (2.7 billion total overnight stays, or 5.6% less than in 2019). Domestic tourism has recovered the most, already 0.7% above its pre-pandemic level at 1.53 billion overnight stays, while international tourism is still 12.6% lower at 1.19 billion overnight stays. 

During the eleven months of 2022, Lithuania received about 3.49 million tourists, of which 1,056,782 were foreigners.  In 2022, the largest number of tourists came from Latvia, Poland, and Germany. Last year’s leading countries in terms of growth in arrivals were South Korea (from 116 to 813 tourists, +601%) and Israel (from 5,787 to 23,190 tourists, +301%).