TOURISTS: Estonian travel agencies received 294,400 foreign tourists in the fourth quarter of 1999, a drop of 16 percent year on year from 1998. According to the Statistics Department, the number of Estonians traveling abroad grew at the same time by five percent, to 64,900. Of the tourists visiting the country, 45,400 or 41 percent more than a year before, used accommodation services. Day visitors, of whom 98 percent came from Finland, numbered 249,000 in the last quarter of 1999. The average length of a trip to Estonia was 3.2 days. Estonian tourists spent an average 4.1 days abroad.
OPEN-HAUS: Real estate company Ober-Haus opened another office in the heart of Tallinn on March 29. Ober-Haus was established in 1994 and has developed into the largest real estate company in the Baltics. The company's headquarters is situated in Tallinn. The new real estate office is the tenth Ober-Haus office in the Baltics and the fourth in Estonia.
TOODLE-OO: AirBaltic is donating air tickets to the Latvian National Opera's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute. The auction will be held from April 10-14 and the winning bidders will be notified on April 17. The successful bidders will receive a certificate that can be exchanged for tickets at AirBaltic's city office. The payment will actually be a donation to the Latvian National Opera.
ZOOM: TransRussia, the international transport and logistics exhibition and conference will take place in Moscow from May 16-19. The organizers of the event see it as possibly one of the best in recent years with improvement in the general trading environment in Russia and the event taking place seven weeks after the elections in the country. Large international companies will be holding exhibitions along with transport contingents from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The event is expected to attract over 5,000 visitors.
NORDIC BANK EYES VILNIUS BANK: Lithuanian central bank has started reviewing a request from MeritaNordBanken to take over the assets and commitments of the French Societe Generale office in Vilnius and to begin operating in Lithuania. Societe Generale Vilnius office, which opened in mid-1998, reportedly hopes that the Scandinavian bank will take over its assets and commitments on May 1. The office ended the first year of activities with losses of 659,000 litas ($164,750), whereas in the first nine months of last year it suffered losses of 2.3 million litas ($0.575 million). MeritaNordbanken is expanding banking activities in Estonia and Latvia.
SHAREHOLDERS GO FOR BUDGET: Shareholders of Pirma Latvijas Komercbanka in a general meeting on March 31 resolved to approve the bank's budget for 2000 forecasting a profit target of 455,000 lats ($763,422.) The shareholders decided the targets set under the budget can be changed depending on the investor policy. The bank this year is planning to complete the process of attracting the investor and secure a further share capital increase. Under this year's budget approved by shareholders, Pirma Banka plans to receive 2.69 million lats in net revenues from interest, 3.944 million lats in non-interest revenues and 6.6634 million lats in net operational revenues. The bank's audited loss in 1999 was 7.154 million lats.
AIRPORT CONTRACTS IN BALANCE: Minister of Transport Anatolijs Gorbunovs is considering the possibility of revoking authorization contracts with all of the state proxies at the Riga Airport, said an advisor to the minister, Didzis Jonovs. According to Jonovs, Gorbunovs believes that the state proxies' approved salaries for the airport's board members last year were too high and considers the move squandering company resources. "According to declarations submitted to the State Revenue Service, some members of the board received more than LVL 4,000 in gross wages per month," Jonovs said.