Latvia is one of the three Baltic states, situated on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Lithuania, north and south respectively. The country is also bordered by Russia to the east and Belarus to the southeast, and it shares maritime borders with Sweden to the west. It has an area of 64,589 km² and its landscape is a mix of beaches, rivers, lakes, marshes, and forests. Latvia is divided into four regions; West Latvia (Kurzeme), East Latvia (Latgale), North Latvia (Vidzeme), and South Latvia (Zemgale). The country has a population of 1.95 million people (2017). Latvia’s capital and largest city are Riga and the country’s spoken languages are Latvian (official), Russian and English (especially in business and tourism).

Tourism is an essential source of export revenue and a key contributor to GDP in Latvia. Tourism directly contributed 4.5% of Latvia’s GVA in 2016 as reported by the Tourism Satellite Account. In 2018, tourism exports were EUR 1.3 million ( 5% of total exports & 17% of service exports) and Latvia’s Tourism Revenue grew by 11.1 % in 2018. Tourism has evolved and established itself as one of the most lucrative areas in which business owners may invest.

Choosing to start a tourism industry in Latvia is a great business choice as you can bank on the beauty of the country, with its capital, Riga, being a home of unique cultural sites and entertainment options. The true beauty of the country is displayed to travelers when they venture into the natural parks or the seaside resorts further away from the cities. With more than half its territory covered by forest, the country is a very green place. The capital also has one of the world’s greatest galleries with over 800 art Nouveau buildings. These and more make Latvia a very good place to set up a tourism business.

Tourism Governance

Latvia’s tourist policy is developed under the auspices of the Ministry of Economics. Its primary functions are defined by the 1998 Tourism Law, which entrusts it with the responsibility of developing, organizing, and coordinating national tourism policy. The Ministry of Economics supervises the Latvian Investment and Development Agency, which is responsible for implementing tourist strategies and promoting Latvia as a destination. a tourism destination at both national and international levels. The Ministry also works closely with the private sector, particularly tourism-related trade associations like the Tourism Committee of the National Economy Council. The Ministry collaborates with sector-specific industry organizations and is required by law to consult the business sector when developing new regulations or strategies. 

Setting up your Business

Having a registered office in Latvia is a prerequisite for opening a company, preferably in Riga or in other tourist spots to easily attract clients online and on-site. You can be registered with the Association of Latvian Travel Agents and Operators. Your business is required to observe the general requirements for company registration and after incorporation, register for tax and social security purposes. Labor Law regulations, as well as the country’s accounting and reporting standards, must be followed. Tour guides in locations such as Riga will be required to receive certification based on their credentials and verified by the Riga Tourist Guide Certification Commission. The following are the highlights of setting up your tourism industry in Latvia:

  • Choose a business form that may be the limited liability company (SIA) or joint-stock company (AS).
  • Prepare the company documents which include the Articles of Association and information about the company.
  • Pay the share capital (minimum of EUR 2800 for a limited company).
  • Incorporate the business with the Commercial Registry.

Company registration in Latvia usually lasts only a few days when all of the documents are in order. Foreign investors can use the help of the power of attorney without being physically present to register the company.

NOTE: For excellent delivery of the tourism industry with keeping to the legal expectations of the sector, you should get a copy of the Latvian Tourism Law which is available for free online.

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