segunda-feira, 10 de novembro de 2014

Tourism in Lithuania

In many countries, tourism is recognized as one of the most important industries. According to WTO's analysis, for 83 percent of world countries tourism is one of the five main sectors generating income, and for 38 percent countries of the world it is the main source of foreign currency. Tourism takes about 7 percent of general global investments, 11 percent of consumption expenditure and provides 350 million work places. 
According to 2011 years data of EU department of statistics and World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism sector part in GNP reached 9 percent worldwide and from 4 to 11 percent (7 percent average) in European Union. In Lithuania, total contribution of travel and tourism to the national economy exceeded 4% of GDP in 2011 and is forecast to rise by 4,6% each year until 2022. But in comparison to Portugal, Lithuania receives much less income from tourism. In 2013, Portuguese contribution of Travel and Tourism to GDP was EUR9.5bn (5.8% of GDP), while in Lithuania it was about EUR350 millions.
Compared to those countries that have well-established tourism traditions, Lithuania can still be called a new and undiscovered tourism market, which is insufficiently known worldwide. Nevertheless, Lithuania is a full-fledged player on European tourism markets, offering interesting and attractive tourism products. With its beautiful cities, lovely, unspoiled countryside, well-developed rural tourism network, unique coastal area of almost 100 km and its UNESCO World Heritage masterpieces, receives over 2.2 million tourists a year. The country has 5 national and 30 regional parks filled with virgin forests and untouched marshlands inhabited by protected wild animals and rare birds. About 22,000 rivers, rivulets and over 3,000 beautiful lakes make Lithuania an attractive countryside tourism destination. The biggest tourist flows are from Poland, Russia, Germany, Latvia, Finland, Belarus, United Kingdom and Italy.
Rural tourism is currently receiving more support and attention in Lithuania. Rural tourism is an efficient mean for both the presentation and preservation of natural and cultural heritage objects, namely buildings, landscapes, traditions, and customs. Rural tourism was officially recognised as a tourist sub-branch in 1998, but the Lithuanian government started to actively support the sector in 2003. The Government contributed significantly to promoting this type of business among locals through campaigns and financial assistance. 
Lithuanian rural tourism is still based on family business initiatives. Most of the farmsteads in the country are run by local families. Rural tourism is very popular among the local population, and more than 10 years after the beginning of the rural tourism boom, demand in this sector still exceeds supply. Therefore, the Rural Development Program for Lithuania 2007–2013 (Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania, 2007) identified, as a special measure, the encouragement of rural tourism activities, its importance being shown by the allocation of 204 million Lt (60 million EUR) for the program.
The tourism season in Lithuania ranges from May to September, while January and February currently are the months who register the lowest figures concerning tourism: more than 63% of the arrivals registered from foreign countries entering Lithuania happen during the 2nd and 3rd quarter of the year. The average variation between peak tourism season (summertime) and the rest of the year records points reaching a 10% variance.
In 2011, the overall input of tourism to occupation in Lithuania, counting also all the occupations secondarily triggered by the sector, was 4% of total employment (56,000 occupations). In 2012, this statistic showed a decrease of 4% to 54000 jobs but it is likely to increase each year by more than 1% to 60000 jobs in 2022 (4% of the overall figure). 

Mantas Skroblas

[artigo de opinião produzido no âmbito da unidade curricular “Economia Portuguesa e Europeia” do 3º ano do curso de Economia (1º ciclo) da EEG/UMinho]

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