RIGA - The number of foreign tourists visiting Vilnius in 2005 grew 20 percent to 1.2 million, while Latvia's borders were crossed 845,000 times by outbound foreign visitors in the first quarter of this year, up 30 percent from 2005. According to the Latvian national statistics office, most of the foreign visitors who came to Latvia, were from neighboring countries 's 44 percent from Lithuania, 26 percent from Estonia, 5 percent from Russia, 5 percent from Poland, 4 percent from Finland and 3 percent from Germany.
In the first three months this year foreign travelers spent 42.1 million lats (59.9 million euros) in Latvia, up 32 percent from the respective period in 2005. In the first three months this year Lithuanian visitors were the biggest spenders (7.8 million lats), Germans second (3.9 million), visitors from the U.K. third (3.9 million), then Estonians (3.7 million), Finns (3.2 million), Russians (2.9 million) and Irish (2.9 million).
The average daily expenditures by foreigners in Latvia was 36 lats, up one lat year-on-year. Foreigners stayed on average 1.4 days in Latvia in January-March this year. As many as 70 percent of the visitors were day-travelers and did not stay overnight. Of those who stayed in Latvia more than one day, 58 percent lived in hotels or hostels and 24 percent at their friends and relatives.
In 2005 the number of foreigners visiting Latvia was 3.7 million, up 24 percent from 2004. In Vilnius, the majority of tourists came from Russia, Poland, Germany, the U.K., Finland and Italy. Compared with 2004, the number of U.K. visitors soared 54 percent. As of early 2006, Vilnius had 59 rated hotels, 14 guest houses and 4 motels, which together boasted a total 4,000 rooms.