VILNIUS - Forecasts of a decline in tourist numbers after accession to the European Union did not bear themselves out, the Lietuvos Rytas daily reported, saying that the hotels in major cities are 80 percent full and rooms at seaside hotels have been reserved until the end of summer.
According to the paper, the major factor behind the surge in guests from the EU was tourists' desire to see the Baltic country upon accession to the common market.
"We expected a slight increase in the number of tourists; however, the number of guests at Vilnius hotels exceeds the last year level by more than twice," said Gintautas Indriunas, head of the tourism service development department at the State Tourism Department.
The rise in the tourist flow has had a positive effect on the economy, with the contribution of restaurant and hotel operators to gross domestic product rising by 9 percent in the second quarter of 2004, compared with the April-to-June period a year before.
"Hotels and restaurants benefited on the accession to the EU, which is a very good sign," said Vadimas Titarenka, an adviser to Nord/LB Lietuva Bank president.
The Bank of Lithuania has announced that foreigners' expenses in Lithuania amounted to approximately 413 million litas (120 million euros) in the first three months of 2004, a rise of almost 30 percent from the same period last year.
Revenues on incoming tourism currently comprised approximately 10 percent of the total of the country's export revenues, Indriunas noted.