Lithuanian sea gate offers promising prospects

  • 2001-07-19
  • TBT staff
KLAIPEDA - In 1252 Teutonic knights built the castle of Memelburg at the mouth of the Dane River. Memelburg gave birth to the city of Klaipeda that next year is going to celebrate its 750th anniversary.

Klaipeda, the only Lithuanian seaport and the country's third largest city, has a very convenient geographical position in the Baltic Sea region. Located by the Baltic Sea and the Curonian lagoon, close to the biggest seaports of the Baltic - Kaliningrad in Russia and Riga in Latvia, as well as nearby major air and land routes – Klaipeda is an important transit hub for Lithuania. The city is only 28 kilometers from Palanga Airport, which has flights to Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin, Oslo, Billund in Denmark, Kristianstad in Sweden and Moscow. Klaipeda is 200 kilometers from the international highway Via Baltica.

In April, 2000, there were 627 companies in Lithuania dealing with import-export operations. Sixty-seven percent or 415 of them were based in Klaipeda.

Cooperation between the city and the harbor is the basis of successful development of both, thus making Klaipeda a very attractive city for living and doing business. Klaipeda is second after Vilnius in attracting direct foreign investments and many major industrial enterprises are located there. On Jan. 1. 2001 there were 4,419 companies operating in Klaipeda. Traditional industries in the region are shipbuilding, paper, cardboard, chipboard production, tobacco industry, beer production, meat processing, dairy, fish processing, furniture production and production of construction materials. The main foreign investors in Klaipeda are tobacco giant Philip Morris International, which invested $60 million in its production and storage facilities; Carlsberg brewery, which has invested $45 million in its subsidiary Svyturys; Odense Steel Shipyard Ltd. with a $18 million investment in Baltijos Laivu Statykla; Osman Trading AB (Sweden); Woodison Trading AB (Ireland), Ferry Investment Ltd. and Distral S.A. (Britain), have invested $17 million in AB Klaipedos Nafta, and Siemens AG has invested $14 million into Baltijos Automobiliu Technika company.

Although the popularity of the Klaipeda region as a major domestic tourist destination has decreased from 10 years ago when there were 400,000 tourists visiting during the summer season, it's still one of the top places to go. It is expected that during the summer season the region should attract about 300,000 tourists, among them 15 percent to 20 percent foreigners. About 84 percent of tourists report a positive evaluation of Lithuania, according to various surveys. Most often tourists come to Lithuania to visit friends (33 percent), on business (31 percent) or to spend holidays (22 percent).

One of the most colorful annual events in the Baltics, which includes a wide variety of shows, performances and activities, will take place throughout the week of July 23 - 29 in the Lithuanian port town of Klaipeda - the Sea Festival 2001. Open air concerts will be held at various locations, including Atgimimo Square, near the Klaipeda Hotel, and Teatro Square. The festival week will close with fireworks on July 29, at 11 p.m.