RIGA 's President Vaira Vike-Freiberga suggested that the government needed to control prostitution and offer foreign visitors various forms of entertainment in order to prevent Latvia's image from becoming associated with sex tourism.
Speaking to Radio SWH on Sunday, Vike-Freiberga said that controlling "the spread and obtrusiveness of prostitution" was necessary in order to change Latvia's unflattering image. She also stressed that other entertainment options for tourists needed to be developed.
Vike-Freiberga noted that Latvia has been frequented by British bachelors who already have a bad reputation at home since they do not care about culture and are interested only in satisfying their biological needs.
However, there is also a quite different group of tourists, especially families with children, who will enjoy Latvia's sandy beaches, the president said.
In recent months the media in both Latvia and abroad have mentioned Riga as a popular destination for those interested in sex tourism. This reputation began to soil the capital after several low-cost airlines launched flights to Latvia. Several high-ranking officials in both the national and Riga city governments have expressed concern about the country's reputation, but this was the first time the president spoke out on the issue.
Foreigners say local girls are accessible and cheap, and for many visitors Riga is renowned mainly for partying and drinking.