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Delegation of the Association of Finnish Travel Industry visits Latvia


From 21 to 23 April, a delegation of 70 representatives of the Association of Finnish Travel Industry (SMAL) visited Latvia to participate in a series of events dedicated to Finnish tourism organised by the Tourism Department of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA). This was one of the most ambitious and significant events in the long history of co-operation between SMAL and the Latvian tourism industry. The delegation consisted of high and medium level managers of Finnish tourism companies, who were interested in Latvia's tourism opportunities.

Following the current trends in tourism, both sides agreed that the interest in local tourism will increase in the nearest future and that this is the right time to strengthen the awareness of both sides on tourism opportunities in each host country.

In the tourism marketing strategy of Latvia, Finland has been identified as a priority tourism destination market, where the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) has been implementing various marketing activities for several years and similar activities are planned this year as well.

"Cooperation with SMAL has allowed us to significantly expand business contacts with representatives of the Finnish tourism business," Iveta Strupkāja, the Deputy Director of LIAA, acknowledged at the opening of the festive event. Inese Šīrava, the Head of the Tourism Department of LIAA added that Finland has always been one of the most important foreign tourism destination markets for Latvia. “The visit of the members of SMAL is the result of successful previous cooperation and will serve as a great incentive to strengthen co-operation and create new products to facilitate the flow of tourism between the two countries. LIAA sees great potential in the Finnish market and will continue to implement marketing activities aimed at attracting Finnish tourists to Latvia.”

The SMAL visit lasted for three days. On the first day, delegates visited the most iconic places in Riga and a social event was held at the House of Blackheads with the participation of Finnish jazz pianist Tuomo Usitalo and Latvian vocalist Elīna Ose, Melo-M and chef Māris Jansons.

Meanwhile, on Friday, a panel discussion, "Travel Ethics. Involvement of Money and Local Communities in the Age of Diversity and Equality” was held, where Ēriks Lingebērziņš, a board member of the Association of Latvian Travel Agents and Operators (ALTA), the Dean of the Faculty of International Tourism at Turība University, Hulio Jimena, Head of the Spanish Tourist Office in Helsinki, Metsi Lindfors, Head of ATI Travel & Incentives, and Anu Pironen, the Sales Manager at Finland’s leading tourism agency Lamolinja Oy shared their opinions.

Aldis Kušķis, the moderator of the discussion, introduced the conversation by saying that we should learn a lot from the Finns about sustainability and travel ethics. The participants of the discussion addressed the level of responsibility of the merchant, different tourism organisations, and the role of the consumer in the practice of ethical tourism, as well as discussed, the potential steps that must be made in order to move towards an ethical tourism industry.

This was followed by a fair of Finnish tourism entrepreneurs, which was attended by 50 representatives of Latvian tourism.

On the third day of the event, FAM visits to Līgatne, Sigulda, Jūrmala, Jelgava and Rundāle took place.