I had to applaud Karlis Streips for his column (TBT #653).
Although tongue and cheek, he highlights a very important point about the less than cheerful welcome tourists receive upon arrival in our country.
As Streips points out, in these tough economic times and with competition increasingly fierce within Europe for the tourism dollar, Latvia should place more value on the foreign visitors that cross our borders.
Having traveled quite extensively myself I regularly have foreign visitors.
But I'm sad to say that many leave with less than inspired images of Latvia.
Several friends of mine have been cheated by taxi drivers, not to mention those that braved the bus, only to be slapped with a fine for neglecting to buy a ticket for their so called "traveling companion" 's their luggage.
They say first impressions are lasting, so why is it that the powers that be don't try and put more of an effort in to policing this frontline from the rip off artists and improving tourists first point of contact.
In Latvia at least tourist information falls flat on many levels. On a recent trip to a seaside town with a friend the train pulled away leaving us standing in front of a large notice board emblazoned with the words "Tourist Information" but containing nothing, no not even a single map.
It's true that that some tourists suffer from a lack of judgment or even stupidity when they come to town, but does that mean they should be fleeced of their last santims for buying some pretty girls a round of drinks?
More importantly, why is it that these dubious establishments are allowed to continue operating?
Not every visitor that comes to Latvia is a sex tourist of rowdy member of those obnoxious stag parties, it's time we extended our hand in welcome and gave guests a real taste of what Latvia is like instead of burdening them with needless bureaucracy.