Latvia’s Tourism Sector Steadily Recovering, Lags Behind EU Average

Latvia’s Tourism Sector Steadily Recovering, Lags Behind EU Average

According to the newest data from Eurostat, Latvia’s tourism industry is gradually bouncing back from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, it is still not up to par with the average across the European Union (EU).

Rise of overnight stays but still behind visitor numbers

In 2023, the total nights people spent in tourist accommodations across the EU hit 2.9 billion. This marked a 6.1% rise from 2022 and a 1.4% increase from the numbers seen before the pandemic in 2019.

However, Latvia’s tourism sector is still 20% behind the visitor volumes recorded in 2019, the largest lag in the entire EU.

Foreign visitors lag behind domestic tourism

While Latvia saw a 1.3% increase in domestic guests in 2023 compared to 2022, the number of foreign guests having overnight stays rose by a more significant 22%. 

Combined, these figures represent a growth of around 12% in the sector.

The report states that the number of foreign tourists still has plenty of room for growth — current numbers are 33% below the 2019 figure.

Increasing interest in Latvia

As Latvia’s tourism sector continues its steady recovery, the news holds implications for EU visitors and potential long-term immigrants to the country.

With the launch of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) scheduled for mid-2025, travelers to Latvia will need to obtain this authorization prior to their visit.

The improved tourism figures, particularly the 22% increase in foreign guests, suggest that interest in visiting Latvia is on the rise.

This might mean that more people want to visit the country, either for short holidays or for longer periods as digital nomads, students, or investors.

Immigration policies and Latvia’s tourism rebound

The progress in Latvia's tourism recovery may also influence the country’s broader immigration policies, both in terms of the ETIAS and general immigration regulations.

As the sector rebounds, leaders might think about changing the rules for immigrants to make it easier for them to visit or stay here for a long time.

They need to find a balance between what is good for the economy and keeping everyone safe.

A promising spring season ahead

With the spring tourist season just getting underway, hopes will be high that interest in visiting Latvia will continue to revive.

In 2023, Latvia welcomed 1.7 million domestic tourists, a figure just under the total population of the country, and 2.5 million foreign tourist visits.