RIGA - Latvian officials are working on a program to rejuvenate the nation's tourism industry, which historically has lacked coordinat-ed state support.
Economy Minister Juris Lujans said that tourism was one of the 10 most important sectors for Latvia's future economic growth and that work was continuing on a national program for tourism development.
The Economy Ministry has planned that tourism will comprise 5 percent – 7 percent of gross domestic product in coming years, up from the present level of 2 percent.
Next year the ministry intends to allot 1 million lats (1.5 million euros) to tourism, more than twice what the sector will receive from the state this year.
Also, in 2004 more efforts will be put in establishing Riga as a business tourism center for the entire Nordic region, in attracting tourists who know Latvia only as a transit state and also in developing ferry tourism.
There are also plans to put Latvia's road signs in order after a deluge of complaints from foreigners, and even locals, who have gotten lost throughout the country.
New informational brochures are also in the works, and they will be printed in the languages of key markets the government and industry officials have defined as priority markets: Lithuanian, Estonian, Finnish, Swedish, German, Russian, English, Polish, Czech, Italian and Spainish.
More than 100,000 copies of the brochure will be published.
Next year the Tourism Development agency plans to take part in 15 fairs worldwide to promote Latvia.
A group of professionals, chaired by TDA, is continuing to work on an image-concept of Latvia as a tourism destination.