In Latvia's capital, Riga, the "Baltic Sea and Latvian Tourism Forum" is held from 14 to 15 November 2018. For the first time the annual Baltic Sea Tourism Forum is being merged with a national tourism forum, the Latvian Tourism Forum. More than 450 participants are expected. Under the title "On the edge of change", the subject of change will be the focus of the conference, which should help to stabilize cooperation in the Baltic Sea region and establish the Baltic Sea travel region.
On 14th November, industry representatives as well as guests from politics and business will among others debate under the headline "creation vs. preservation ". The focus is on the challenges of creating new offers while maintaining the touristic and unique charm of popular holiday destinations. On 15th November, the subject of digitization will be discussed. In times of growing competition and the constant technological development, the aim is to clarify how increasingly important the shift of business processes to the internet has become.
The Baltic Sea region counts around 90 million guest arrivals annually, most recently with annual increases. The share of international tourists in the BSR amounted to around 24 % in 2016. According to the UNWTO, tourist arrivals worldwide are expected to rise from the current 1.23 billion (2016) to 1.8 billion per year by 2030, and from 616.2 million (2016) to 744 million in Europe alone.
At this year's event, the Baltic Sea Tourism Center presents initiatives to unite the key tourism stakeholders in the Baltic Sea region with the aim to establish a permanent center of expertise for improved communication and cooperation in tourism at macro-regional level. So far, results of the BSTC’s recent work include the implementation of four expert groups with defined tasks - on sustainable tourism, training offerings, tourism policies, and market research. E.g., the BSTC published the first market research report on the tourism industry in the Baltic Sea region this year. For the year 2020, the introduction of a Sustainability Award in the BSR is planned. Further information can be found at www.bstc.eu. In addition, the one-year project "From Sustainable Development towards Sustainable Tourism in the Baltic Sea Region" that was launched in September 2017 will be evaluated.
The Latvian Investment and Development Agency and the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Latvia host the BSTF 2018 in cooperation with the Baltic Sea Tourism Center and Policy Area Tourism in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Strategy. The next Forum 2019 will take place in the Russian city of Pskov. Further events are planned to take place in Brussels.