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Lithuania has successfully compensated for a one-third drop in the number of tourists from Russia

2016-02-29 , Updated 2016-03-07 00:00

Last year, Lithuanian accommodation establishments received 5.8 percent more local and foreign tourists than in 2014.

The number of local tourists in 2015 grew by 10.3 percent, and the number of foreign tourists grew by 2.3 percent. The number of tourists in Lithuania from European Union states grew by 11.9 percent in 2015, while the number of tourists from non-EU states fell by 8.6 percent.

According to Rasuolė Andrulienė, the head of the Tourism Development division at the State Department of Tourism (SDT), despite an almost one-third drop (-32.6 percent) in the number of Russian visitors last year and a -13 percent drop in the number of Belarusian visitors, the risk-mitigating resource allocation measures provided in the Lithuanian tourism marketing strategy let the country successfully withstand geopolitical and economic changes in some of its most important inbound tourism markets.

“Currently, 58.2 percent of foreign tourists visiting Lithuania are European Union (EU) citizens. Given the changes taking place in the tourism market, the SDT defined 6 target tourism markets that Lithuania will put the most effort into over the next 5 years. They are EU states: Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, Norway and France. The strategy paid off: all of these markets grew last year, and growth in five of the target markets was in the double digits. Together, they currently make up 27.1 percent of Lithuania's entire accommodation market,” said R. Andrulienė.

In 2015, Germany became a secure leader in Lithuania's inbound tourism market for the first time. Last year, 170,100 German tourists visited our country, which is 4.9 percent more than in 2014. In a survey commissioned by the SDT in which foreign tourists evaluated Lithuania as a tourism country, German tourists had an especially favorable outlook on Lithuania's tourism potential. As many as 9 of 10 Germans who had visited Lithuania said they would recommend Lithuania to their friends and acquaintances.

This year, from March 9-13, the SDT will present Lithuania's natural and cultural heritage sites and tourism news from throughout the country (in its largest cities, resorts and regions) in Berlin at ITB 2016, one of the largest international expositions in the world, and will invite Germans to visit Lithuania.

Out of the top 10 most important countries for inbound tourism to Lithuania, the greatest growth in inbound tourists was seen from Ukraine (27.1 percent) and Norway (27 percent). Other countries from the top 10 also featured welcomed double-digit growth: Italy (20.2 percent), the United Kingdom (17.2 percent), and our neighbors Latvia (11.3 percent) and Estonia (10.6 percent).

“The flow of tourists from Ukraine grew even more due to improved connections – last year, Lithuania and Ukraine were connected by new flights to Kiev and Odessa. Our neighbors in Latvia were attracted by the newly opened treetop path. It was nice to see the return of Polish tourists to Lithuania, whose numbers had fallen over the last several years. In 2015, there were 8.3 percent more Polish visitors than in 2014. Spanish (26.2 percent), Swedish (24.2 percent) and French (14.6 percent) interest in Lithuania also grew. It's important to note that over the last quarter of last year (October – December), meaning during the Christmas/holiday season, Lithuania received more Ukrainian (35.6 percent), British (27.4 percent), Italian (18.6 percent), Polish and German (11.3 percent each) visitors than usual,” said Andrulienė.

Four distant Lithuanian inbound tourism markets also sustained significant growth last year: the number of visitors from Japan grew by 45.4 percent, China by 36.4 percent, and Israel by 11 percent. General long-distance market growth, compared to 2014, increased by 12.8 percent.

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