RIGA - The search to identify Latvia’s image on the international stage took place at the creative festival ‘ADwards’ in Riga on March 18, with the discussion centered on the question of “Who has more to say – Riga or Latvia?” The discussion was organized by the Latvian Institute and was a sequel to last year’s topic “What do we say if we have nothing to say?!” During the past year Riga has been separating itself more and more from Latvia’s image, in turn creating its own popularity, leading to the question of what is more significant, Latvia or Riga alone? In his introduction speech Latvia’s President Valdis Zatlers remarked that both Riga and Latvia can be pure, green, dynamic and clever, each in its own way and complement each other.
The first stage of the discussion included TAVA’s (State Tourism Development Agency) introduction of a new tourism “brand” and an idea for attracting “slow tourism” to Latvia to increase tourists’ time spent in the country and to encourage them to also visit other places outside of Riga. Next came RTAB (Riga Tourism Development Bureau) board member Vita Yermolovich, as she described the bureau’s plan for 2010, and once more accented the main idea of the “Live Riga” campaign - Good for Rigans – good for tourists.” Aerodium communication manager Ansis Egle presented the idea of his company supplying, for the Latvia pavilion at the EXPO in Shanghai, their vertical wind tunnel ‘Aerodium,’ which will “bring happiness” to people by experiencing unforgettable feelings with the Aerodium ride, and by perpetuating that experience in a video record. He stressed that they want to show Latvia as brave, ambitious and alive.
During the second round of discussions emerged the idea of a new export brand for Riga - Rigas Marka - a brand which is to unite different manufacturers in Latvia under one label and to promote them overseas, starting with Moscow. This should bring more popularity to Riga and bring more sales to the manufacturers. Zemgale region’s planning executive Raitis Vitolins made a presentation about development of the region and its economic significance, showing that Riga is not the only significant economically productive part of Latvia. The discussion was finished with DnB Nord economist Peter Strautins’ speech on the idea that Latvia should build an industrial image.
It was apparent, after this meeting, that the images of both Riga and Latvia must come together as one. Latvia’s image should be based on the coherence of all its regions, especially when talking about tourism. It is impossible to make a model of a unique and ideal image, but it is possible to make a mosaic of different visions thanks to great diversity of culture and nature in the different regions of Latvia.