HOTELS - Just like a yoyo

  • 2008-04-23
  • By Louise Dwyer

UP AND DOWN: Lithuania is a pleasant country, so why aren't more people coming?

Lithuania is slowly coming into its own in the world of tourism. Hidden underneath the "Baltic State" umbrella with Latvia and Estonia, it has been difficult for Lithuania to establish its own identity as a holiday destination globally. 
In Vilnius, the quantity of tourists coming to the city is increasing as the summer period is approaching. Being the capital city and also the commercial epicenter of Lithuania, Vilnius hotels are guaranteed a year-round clientele of businessmen and tourists. Both the Radisson SAS and the Ramada Vilnius agreed that during the winter, it is corporations and their representatives that form the foundation of their client base.
"From November the visitors to the hotel are mostly here on business, now the hotel is getting busier and we are starting to see tourists come from other countries," Jolita Juodzeeviciene from Ramada Vilnius said.
Tomas Janulionis from the Radisson SAS agreed with this viewpoint, noting that during the summer there are fewer business guests and that you will find the client base is mostly older couples looking for the comforts that Radisson SAS provides, in a serene setting such as Vilnius' Old Town.
Outside Vilnius the situation is slightly different. The constant buzz of guests during the summer stands in stark contrast to the slow winter period.

Klaipeda and Palanga are two areas that experience the yearly yo-yo effect of the tourist seasons. During the summer, attractions such as Baltic beaches and the Curonian Spit attract hoards of foreign visitors to the west coast. During the winter, the change in Lithuanian weather does not entice foreigners to visit as frequently.
"There are more visitors in the summer season, we have mostly businessmen staying in the hotel over the winter period and then in summer we are full with people on their holidays," said Lena Sonokiet of the Morona Hotel in Klaipeda.

Klaipeda is the obvious place to stay if you are visiting the Curonian Spit. During the Baltic winter, however, the sand dunes do not appeal to the average traveler and the level of tourists in the city drops dramatically.
"From May to September Palanga is at its busiest, especially since a direct flight began to operate between Norway and Palanga. More Norwegian travelers are staying here and for the summer 's we have some families who have booked for up to two weeks. Others have booked in for a month" Dovile Knabikiene from the Palanga Hotel said.

The Hermis Hotel in Kaunas has also noted an increase in tourists from Scandinavia, possibly a result of increased flights into Kaunas airport.
Kristina Demeniene, administrator of the Hermis Hotel, said their clientele is evenly divided between businessmen and holiday makers.
The hotel is busy all year round and is similar to other hotels in that most of its revenue comes from accommodation rather than from exterior sources such as business seminars or restaurant sales.
Giedre Cipkeute of the Kaunas Hotel also found that the hotel is busy all year round though the client base there is 90 percent businessmen.

There are many factors which would explain why Kaunas has such a solid footing in the accommodation market: it is central, more cost effective than Vilnius and it is beside what used to be the largest international airport in Lithuania.
Hotels have noticed an increase in business in the past few years, most probably as a result of Lithuania's entry into the European Union. The country has become much better known than ever before. The increasing popularity of Lithuania as a holiday destination is without doubt going to benefit the tourism and the hotel industries and allow the country to flourish in a manner similar to countries such as Croatia. As every hotel administrator proudly announced about their hotel "We're just getting busier!"