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Printed: 28.11.2023.

PrintTourism in the World, Europe & the Baltics

Eugene Eteris, Latvian Academy of Sciences, senior adviser; BC International Editor, Copenhagen, 22.08.2019.
Tourism becomes one of the largest and fastest growing sectors around the world: it helps in job creation, in revenues and in domestic added value. Hence, analysing main trends and policy priorities are important for the Baltic States’ decision makers.


In the OECD countries- of which all 3 Baltic States are members- tourism directly contributes to about 4% of GDP, to about 7% in employment and over 20% of service exports with an annual growth of about 4%. Although, the new OECD report is based on data from 2016, these figures are really impressive and might be even better today!


Thus, in 2017 only, about 900 mln tourists travel around the world, an increase of 7% on y-o-y account. In the Baltic States the situation is the following: over 3 mln tourists per year in Estonia; 1,7 mln in Latvia and 2,2 mln in Lithuania; compared to 17,5 mln in Poland.

Financing tourism

Financial issues are important as well: largest share of tourism budget is allocated to marketing and promotion, to improving infrastructures; however, funding comes mainly from central/regional government budgets, taxes and charges.


“Travel economy’s” balance in the Baltic States is the following (receipts vs. expenditures, in €): in Estonia – 1,5 bn vs. 1 bn; in Latvia – 866 mln vs. 695 mln; in Lithuania – 1,1 bn vs. 974 mln; thus, the more is invested, the more is the profit!

Three dominating aspects

There are some major long-term trends which affect rapidly evolving tourism industry, which should be kept in mind by the Baltic States’ developers, such as evolving demand, changing demographics, climate change, etc. The states have to develop new strategic approaches in order to adapt to a dynamic tourist sector, modernise regulations, increase stakeholders’ engagements and tackle innovative approaches to tourism business and services.


The OECD experts agree that the national strategies in tourism development have to follow three main directions: sustainability, innovation and accessibility. These issues are not easy to integrate into the national tourism service; thus the best recommendations are: creating inter-ministerial tourism committees with representatives from national/local authorities, business and financial communities. 


No doubt, tourism can play a vital role in a country’s transition to “green economy”; however, there is a need for a shift to more coherent and comprehensive approach to tourism policy.  

Bottom-line: among the “mega trends” in tourism are: evolving visitors’ demand; sustainable tourism; enabling tourism technologies; and travel mobility. Are the Baltic States’ authorities aware of these challenges, can they tackle them in the most operational way, as competitors are not waiting?


More in the new book on global tourism in “OECD Tourism Trends and Policies-2018”- OECD publish. 2018, 380 pp. Web link: https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/urban-rural-and-regional-development/oecd-tourism-trends-and-policies-2018_tour-2018-en#page1