RIGA - The impact of the sharing economy on Latvia's tourism industry increased in recent years, according to the Tourism Trends and Policies 2018 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Having analyzed the tourism industry development in Latvia in 2014-2016, the OECD concluded that the number of hotels and other tourist accommodation providers had increased in recent years and the impact of sharing economy services such as Airbnb, had also continued to grow, with over 10 percent of visitors now estimated to use such services.
The Latvian tourism industry is growing steadily, in particular as regards the number of tourists and the length of stay, yet total revenue from foreign tourists is growing slower than expected.
In 2016, tourism directly contributed EUR 1 billion, amounting to 4.1 percent of Latvia's total GDP. Tourism direct exports totaled EUR 783 million, representing 4.5 percent of total exports. The tourism sector, together with induced impacts, provided almost 79,000 jobs and accounted for 8.9 percent of total employment in Latvia in 2016.
According to the OECD, the main challenges to the Latvian tourism policy are improving the quality of tourism offer, improving education and skills in tourism, combating seasonality trough development of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Events) and health tourism and improving competitiveness in the region.
Latvia's most competitive tourism sectors are MICE tourism, health tourism, nature tourism, and cultural tourism and creative industries which coincide with the main directions for development of the Latvian tourism industry as defined by the Latvian Economics Ministry.