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Promotional Riga campaign boosts tourism turnover

By Anatol Steven. 02.02.2011

Riga circa 1900
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An innovative marketing campaign covering eight countries has boosted Riga’s international profile.

An autumn/winter marketing communication campaign in eight countries has succeeded in boosting Riga’s international profile and increased its tourism turnover, the Latvian capital’s tourism development bureau reports.
Average occupancy in Riga's hotels in December increased by 22 percent compared to the same month in 2009. According to the Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association, average occupancy in Riga’s hotels in December was 44.65 percent.
The campaign, coordinated under the tourism brand LIVE RIGA, was launched in October 2010 and its most active phrase lasted eight weeks, until the end of November.
Tourists from Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia and Finland were invited to celebrate the 500th anniversary of what historical sources say was the world's very first decorated Christmas tree, in Riga.
Janis Naglis, who is one of founders of the Riga Tourism Development Bureau as well as being president of the hotel association, was quick to praise the campaign’s apparent results.
“We’re very happy that the investment which the bureau put into marketing Riga has brought such unexpectedly good results,” he said. “The strong growth in the number of guests coming from Russia and the Scandinavian countries in December testifies to this.”
“At a time when the economic recession has not yet ended, it is the tourism industry that is experiencing the biggest growth,” commented Vita Jermolovica, member of the board of the Riga Tourism Development Bureau, a city marketing facility opened in October 2009.
“It can be an accelerator for the development of related industries. The increase in the use of tourism infrastructure during this winter season confirms the efficacy of the LIVE RIGA autumn/winter campaign. At the time of our campaign, potential guests were given a message as to what differentiates Riga from other places, making it competitive,” she continued.
The LIVE RIGA campaign triggered increases in business for transport companies too. Riga Passenger Terminal, the city’s ferry passenger gateway situated in the city centre, served 21,905 incoming passengers in December. This was nearly 39 percent more than the terminal saw in December 2009.
Statistics published by the Estonian ferry company Tallink show that sea transport services on the Latvia-Sweden line were used by 51,859 passengers in December, 28.9 percent more than the same month the previous year.
Many incoming Russian and Belarusian visitors choose to travel to Riga by rail. Latvian Railway carried 16,071 passengers on the Riga-Moscow-Riga line in December, 10.8 percent more than the previous December.
In the same month on the Riga-St Petersburg-Riga line, 7,542 passengers were transported, 2 percent more than in the same month in 2009.
Passenger numbers at Riga International Airport in December were a little more negligible. However, the weather conditions that month forced many other airports in Europe to cancel thousands of flights, so any increase that month could be seen as a success.
The airport saw 323,522 passengers in December, a rise of 1.8 percent compared to the same month a year earlier.
At the Latvian national airline airBaltic, routes to and from Finland saw the greatest increase in the influx of passengers for the month, year-on-year, up 27 percent, followed by Estonia with 14 percent more. The number of airBaltic passengers from Russia and Denmark also witnessed big gains on the year, growing 9 and 5 percent, respectively.
Information gathered by the Consular Department of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs related to accepted visa applications shows that 17,601 visa applications were received in December, 17 percent more than in the same month in 2009. The number of visa applications accepted at the Latvian embassy in Russia increased by 23 percent.
The Riga tourism marketing campaign covered eight countries – Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Russia, Estonia and Lithuania – during the course of eight weeks from the beginning of October until the end of November.
The campaign’s visual materials presented three topics – Riga as the capital of Christmas and as a city with lots to offer both for food lovers and for shopping lovers. It seems that the capital of Latvia is therefore carefully being positioned as an outstanding destination to enjoy a unique Christmas atmosphere, shopping, eating and having fun.




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